Masters of the Bench
The Rt Hon The Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC
Full Title: The Rt Hon The Baroness Scotland of Asthal QCCategory: Ordinary Bencher
Bench Call Date: 11.3.1997
Call Date: 28.7.1977
Patricia Scotland served as Attorney General for England and Wales, and for Northern Ireland, the first woman and the first BAME person to do so. At the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting she was elected the Sixth Secretary- General of the Commonwealth of Nations and took office in April 2016. She is the first woman to hold the post.
Born in Dominica, her family emigrated to the United Kingdom when she was two years old. She attended Walthamstow School for Girls and went on to Mid Essex Technical College in Chelmsford, where she took her Bachelor of Laws from the University of London as an external student. She specialised in family law and in 1978 was Called to the Bar of Antigua and Barbuda and to the Bar of Dominica.
In 1991, Patricia was the first black woman to be appointed Queen’s Counsel. She later founded 1 Gray’s Inn Square Chambers. She was elected a bencher in 1997. In the same year she received a life peerage on a Labour Party list of working peers. From 1999 to 2001, Patricia was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In 2001 she became Parliamentary Secretary in the Lord Chancellor’s Department, and was appointed to the Privy Council.
From 2003 until 2007, she was Minister of State for the Criminal Justice System and Law Reform at the Home Office, and deputy to three successive Home Secretaries. While at the Home Office, Patricia was responsible for major reform of the criminal justice system; she created the Office of Criminal Justice Reform, which helped to establish and support the National Criminal Justice Board. In 2007, when appointed Attorney General for England and Wales by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Patricia became the first woman to hold the office since its foundation in 1315.