Baroness Helena Kennedy QC is a leading barrister and expert in human rights law, civil liberties and constitutional issues. Called to the Bar in 1972, she has practised predominantly in criminal law and has acted in some of the most prominent cases of the last 30 years including those relating to the Brighton Bombing, and the Guildford Four appeal. Helena was the British member of the recent International Bar Association Task Force on Terrorism, and also recently chaired an inquiry for the Royal College of Pathologists and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health into sudden infant death, in the aftermath of miscarriages of justice where mothers were wrongly convicted of murdering their babies.
Helena has been a force in promoting equal opportunities for women at the Bar, and her call for research into the experience of women lawyers and their absence from the Bench has led to policy changes in the Lord Chancellor's Department and new Codes of Practice. For her work in this area she received The Times newspaper's Lifetime Achievement award in 1999. Helena was a founding member of Charter 88, the constitutional reform group which was set up in response to growing concerns about the failure of British institutions to serve our democracy. Her key role led to the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British law, among other constitutional reforms.
Helena has a long-standing interest in education, and was a member of the National Commission for Education, and chaired the Further Education Commission into Widening Participation which produced the seminal report Learning Works in 1997. As a result, the sector created a trust in her name – the Helena Kennedy Foundation – which provides bursaries to help the most disadvantaged in society move into Higher Education. Among her many public roles, Helena is an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health; a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatry and of the Royal College of Pathologists; a patron of numerous charities, and chair of Justice, the British arm of the International Commission of Jurists.