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Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair (born 23 September 1954), known professionally as Cherie Booth QC, is an English barrister. She is married to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Early life

Born in Bury, then Lancashire, now Greater Manchester, England and raised in Ferndale Road, Waterloo, North Liverpool. Her father, the actor Tony Booth, left her mother Gale when Cherie Booth was eight years old. Booth and her younger sister, Lyndsey, were then raised by their mother Gale and their paternal grandmother Vera Booth, a devout Roman Catholic. Cherie and her sister both attended Catholic schools in Crosby in Liverpool. Cherie Booth attended Seafield Convent Grammar which is now part of Sacred Heart Catholic College, where she achieved 4 Grade A GCE A Level passes. Booth has six half sisters, including the journalist Lauren Booth. She is a practising Catholic.

University, marriage, family

She studied law at the London School of Economics and graduated with a First Class degree. She later came at the top of her year in the bar exams, while teaching law at the University of Westminster. In 1976, while she was studying to become a barrister, she met Tony Blair. She obtained a pupillage in the chambers of Derry Irvine ahead of him, although he was also taken on. Married on 29 March 1980, they have four children: Euan, Nicholas (Nicky), Kathryn and Leo.

Political attempt and views

Cherie Blair unsuccessfully contested the seat of North Thanet in Kent for Labour at the 1983 UK general election, losing to Roger Gale (Conservative), while her husband was selected at the last minute for a safe seat in Sedgefield in County Durham in the same election. She was considering standing in 1987, but a cycling accident in which she broke both her arms ended her chances.

She has described herself as a socialist and at times has appeared to have views further to the left than those of her husband.

Legal career

A member of Lincoln's Inn, she became a barrister in 1976 and Queen's Counsel in 1995. In 1999, she was appointed a Recorder (a permanent part-time judge) in the County Court and Crown Court. She was Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University from 1999-2006, and on 26 July 2006 was awarded the honorary title of Emeritus Chancellor. She is also Governor of the London School of Economics and the Open University. She is a founding member of Matrix Chambers in London from which she continues to practise as a barrister. Matrix was formed in 2000 specialising in human rights law, though members also practise in a range of areas of UK public and private law, the Law of the European Union and European Convention on Human Rights, and public international law.

She specialises in employment, discrimination and public law and in this capacity has occasionally represented claimants taking cases against the UK government.

Cherie Blair has appeared in a number of leading cases. A notable example before the European Court of Justice was concerned with discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. See ECJ Case C-249/96, Lisa Jacqueline Grant vs. South-West Trains Ltd. In November 2007, she expressed interest in becoming a senior judge.

Controversies

In 2002, Blair purchased two flats in Bristol with the assistance of Peter Foster, a convicted Australian conman and boyfriend of Blair's friend Carole Caplin, who negotiated a discount for Blair. Blair publicly apologised for her embarrassing connection to Foster, stating, "I did not think it was my business to choose my friends' friends". Blair regularly wears a "magic pendants" known as "BioElectric Shields." Reports of her New Age practices included an account of her 2001 holiday in Mexico, when she and her husband, wearing only swimming costumes, privately took part in a rebirthing procedure that involved smearing mud and fruit over each others' bodies while sitting in a steam bath. It is claimed her fourth pregnancy at 45 came after she submitted to New Age sexual techniques, though she herself blames leaving contraceptives at home due to embarrassment whilst visiting Balmoral.

Later in 2002, she apologised after saying, in reference to the Palestinian suicide bombers, "As long as young people feel they have no hope but to blow themselves up, we're never going to make progress, are we?", within hours of a blast in Jerusalem that killed at least 19 people.

In September 2007 Cherie Blair was involved in another controversy. This involved being investigated for slapping a child called Miles Gandolfi at a sporting event. The investigations were quickly closed after it was found that it was all in good humour, but at the time this was used by many as an example of Cherie Blair being hoist by her own petard, after her part in bringing in child protection laws.

Portrayals

Cherie Blair features as a character in Chris Bush and Ian McCluskey's highly acclaimed production TONY! The Blair Musical, originally performed at York Theatre Royal and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007.

Played by Helen McCrory, Blair also features as a character in the The Queen (2006) starring Dame Helen Mirren about the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, and is portrayed as a fierce anti-monarchist.

Robert Harris's fictional thriller, The Ghost, features a pivotal character, Ruth Lang, inspired by Blair.

Awards and recognition

Cherie Blair has been awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill medal in recognition of her high ideals and courageous actions.

Publishes memoirs in 2008

Cherie Blair published her memoirs in late May 2008. The book is entitled: Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography of Cherie Blair.

Interviewed about the book by Carol McNeill on the Canadian network CBC Television on 1 June 2008, Cherie Blair stated that she felt most of the controversy about her in the British media was due to her pioneering role as the first wife of a British Prime Minister who had her own career, with the media simply not knowing how to treat her fairly and objectively.

Styles

  • Miss Cherie Booth (1954-1980)
  • Mrs Cherie Blair (1980-)
  • Cherie Booth QC (1995-)

Blair uses the title "Cherie Booth QC" professionally, although she is Mrs Cherie Blair by marriage.

References

External links

''The following links were last verified 14 December 2006.

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