THE FUTURE QC BORN INTO A FAMILY OF 14
The 54-year-old has never stood for elective office, but has still managed to become the most prominent black woman in the Government and a leading voice on racial, feminist and equality issues.
She was handed a peerage when Tony Blair came to power in 1997 after a stellar career at the bar which saw her become Britain’s first black female QC.
Since then Baroness Scotland of Asthal has risen inexorably – but not without controversy.
She entered the Government in 1999 as a Foreign Office minister with responsibility for Asian affairs. Two years later she was made a member of the Privy Council and went to work for the Lord Chancellor, before a move to the Home Office as Minister of State for the Criminal Justice System and Law Reform in 2003.
Her opponents will find it a delicious irony that it now appears she is in breach of a law – the 2006 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act – which she helped push through the Lords.
Her spell at the Home Office was fraught with controversy. In 2003 the Government signed what is now regarded as a lopsided extradition treaty with the U.S., which has been used to demand that British suspects face trial in America on flimsy pretexts.
It was Baroness Scotland who was dispatched to the States to get the Americans to ratify the deal during the furore surrounding the extradition of the socalled NatWest Three bankers, who were embroiled in the col- lapse of the U.S. firm Enron.
The same law is now being used to demand the extradition of Asperger’s sufferer and computer hacker Gary McKinnon.
Gordon Brown made her the country’s senior law officer in June 2007.
Born in Dominica to Antiguan and Dominican parents, Patricia Scotland is the tenth of 12 children and moved to Britain when she was three.
She attended Walthamstow School for Girls in London, before taking a law degree at Mid Essex Technical College in Chelmsford.
Last year her name was floated as a possible replacement for Sir Nigel Sheinwald as the ambassador in Washington. The pinstriped diplomat was seen by No 10 as a decidedly unhip mouthpiece after Barack Obama was elected America’s first black president.
But the idea was dismissed as tokenism by Mr Obama’s aides.
As Attorney General, she now finds herself at the heart of the debate about whether British spies were complicit in the torture of terrorist suspects. With the police investigating claims of abuse, she may have to decide whether to prosecute in cases that could severely embarrass the Government. Last night she was dealing with embarrassment of her own.