The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, is a citizen of the United Kingdom and of Dominica. At the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta she was chosen to be Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and took office on 1 April 2016. She is the sixth person and first woman to hold the position.
Previously as a lawyer and politician, she had been associated with campaigns for equality and to open up wider opportunities for women and led on policy implementation in these areas when holding ministerial office in the UK Government.
Patricia Scotland was born in Dominica, the tenth of twelve children. She has achieved a remarkable number of firsts. In 1991, she became the youngest person since Pitt the Younger and first black woman to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel. She was the first black woman to be appointed Assistant Recorder, Recorder and Deputy High Court Judge. Early in 1997, she was elected as a Bencher of the Middle Temple. The youngest person and first black woman to be so elected.
She became a Millennium Commissioner in 1994, and was a member of the Commission for Racial Equality. In 1997 she received a life peerage and was created Baroness Scotland of Asthal.
In 2001 she became Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor’s Department, and was made a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. She was the minister formally responsible for civil justice and the reform of civil law including the comprehensive reform of land registration leading to the Land Registration Act 2002.
She was responsible for international affairs at the Lord Chancellor’s Department and was appointed as the UK Alternate Representative to the European Convention and was given primary responsibility for the negotiations in relation to the Charter of Rights which were successfully concluded in 2003.
In 2003, Scotland was made Minister of State for the Criminal Justice System and Law Reform at the Home Office and deputy successively to three Home Secretaries. While at the Home Office she was responsible for major reform of the criminal justice system.
She chaired the Inter-Ministerial Group on Domestic violence and led the delivery of a multidisciplinary approach to tackling this crime which reduced domestic violence by 64% in England and Wales. By the time she left office, crime had been reduced to its lowest rate since 1981.
Appointed Attorney General by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2007, Patricia Scotland was the first woman to hold the office since its foundation in 1315.
As Secretary-General of Commonwealth she has placed special emphasis on mobilizing the 53 nations of the Commonwealth to tackle climate change and to build the resilience of smaller or more vulnerable countries. Eliminating domestic violence and violence against women and girls has been another area of focus. Since the adoption of the Commonwealth Blue Charter at the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, she has worked to intensify Commonwealth cooperation on the blue economy and the sustainable use of marine resources.