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Helena Kennedy

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Helena Kennedy

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws
Born Helena Ann Kennedy
(1950-05-12) 12 May 1950 (age 64)
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Nationality British
Occupation Barrister, television presenter
Employer Mansfield College, Oxford; BBC
Political party Labour Party
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Iain Louis Hutchison; 2 children
Partner(s) Iain Mitchell (1978-1984); 1 child
Children Keir Kennedy Mitchell
Clio Kennedy Hutchison
Roland Kennedy Hutchison

Helena Ann Kennedy, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws QC, FRSA (born 12 May 1950),[1] is a British barrister, broadcaster, and Labour member of the House of Lords. Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, as she is properly styled, is a former chair of the Human Genetics Commission, which advises the UK Government on ethical, social, and legal issues arising from developments in genetic science.


Lady Kennedy was born in Glasgow to a devoutly Roman Catholic family. She is one of four sisters born to Joshua Patrick and Mary Veronica (née Jones) Kennedy, both committed Labour activists. Her father, a printer with the Daily Record, was a trade union leader.[1] She attended Holyrood Secondary School in Glasgow, where she was appointed Head Girl. Kennedy still regularly attends Mass and professes that her Catholicism "remains very much part of who I am", even though she eschews its more traditional values. She went on to study Law at London's Council of Legal Education.[1]

Personal life

Her first partner was the actor Iain Mitchell, with whom she lived from 1978 until 1984, and by whom she has a son. In 1986, Kennedy married Dr Iain Louis Hutchison (a surgeon), with whom she has a daughter and a son.[1]


Lady Kennedy was elected principal of Mansfield College, Oxford in July 2010 (which office she has served since September 2011).[2] She has received numerous academic awards, including:


  • Creator: Blind Justice, BBC TV, 1987
  • Presenter: Heart of the Matter, BBC TV, 1987
  • After Dark, Channel 4 and BBC4, 1987–2003
    • She presented many editions of this series, including the infamous "drunk Oliver Reed" episode, where the actor verbally insulted and attempted to kiss feminist Kate Millett (see After Dark)
  • Presenter: Raw Deal on Medical Negligence, BBC TV, 1989
  • Presenter: The Trial of 'Lady Chatterley's Lover', BBC Radio 4, 1990
  • Presenter: Time Gentlemen, Please, BBC Scotland, 1994 (Winner, Television Programme Award category, 1994 Industrial Journalism Awards)
  • Commissioner, BAFTA Inquiry into the future of the BBC, 1990


Lady Kennedy rebels against her party whip in the House of Lords more frequently than any other Labour Peer, having a dissent rate of 33.3%.[4] She was Chair of Charter 88 (1992–97) and is closely affiliated to the educational charity Common Purpose.

Public leadership


  • Created a Life Peer, as "The Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, of Cathcart in the City of Glasgow" (1997)
  • Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (2004)
  • Ordre des Palmes Académiques (2006)


  • Eve was Framed: Women and British Justice, 1993; ISBN 0-09-922441-0
  • Just Law: The changing face of justice and why it matters to us, 2004 (ISBN needed)


External links

  • Helena Kennedy's home page
  • Power Commission
  • Charity Commission

Academic offices
Preceded by
New Institution
Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University
Succeeded by
Jon Snow

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