Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws is a Labour Life Peer of the House of Lords. Baroness Helena Kennedy has spent her professional life giving voice to those who have least power within the system, championing civil liberties and promoting human rights. She was the Chair of the POWER Commission. She is also on the board of the Independent newspaper and chair of the Human Genetics Commission.
Helena Kennedy's practice of law as a barrister – she is a member of the Doughty Street Chambers in London – has involved a large number of prominent cases. These include the Brighton Bombing, the Michael Bettany espionage trial, the Guildford Four appeal and the bombing of the Israeli embassy. She has also acted for many battered women who have killed their husbands.
She is quite willing to rebel and not follow the party line. In one of her speeches she said 'There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular. But one must take it because it is right.'
- An inspirational woman who has fought for freedom and democracy throughout her party's lamentable time in government. She was one of the few Labour peers willing to speak truth to power when the ID cards legislation was being debated in the Lords.
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, she said she would "go to the wall" rather than accept their introduction in Britain. "I am damned if they (the government) will introduce them," she said.
House of Lords debates Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws Identity Cards Bill 6 March 2006
- My Lords, perhaps I may, from these Benches, express my support for this amendment. As many of my noble friends know, I take great exception to the idea of identity cards because, like the noble Lord, Lord Thomas—our historian—I believe that it flies in the face of the great traditions of this country. The fact that we are nation built on the common law is not without significance. The common law was built on the acceptance and understanding that we should approach power with a degree of scepticism. Unlike the rest of Europe, which had the Napoleonic code, we in Britain, including Scotland, incorporated into our system of law the idea that power can be abused and that, therefore, there should always be a burden on the state to prove things. Citizens did not have to go around proving their existence or allowing their status to be challenged. What is interesting about that is that it created the spirit of the British character and is why I believe that we never surrendered to totalitarianism in any form.
UK commission rejects infant DNA profiling The Register 1st April 2005
- Human Genetics Commission chairwoman, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, told a press conference: "We have concluded that there are important ethical, legal and social barriers to genetic profiling of this kind, although there could be medical advantages in the future. It is important that research continues in order to establish how far profiling could be clinically useful, and it is critical that developments are kept under review.
- "Specifically, we are recommending to government that the entire topic should be revisited in five years, when technologies will have moved on and the prospect of this becoming a reality is closer," she advised.
Baroness Kennedy was chair of an independent commission, looking into the state of political participation in Britain, called the Power Inquiry
While talking in the House of Lords about wide spread disenchantment with the political processes she said Parliament: Public Engagement 9 February 2005
- The notion that such a deep-seated problem can be addressed by policies such as all-postal voting or electronic voting from your armchair is inadequate.
- Helena Kennedy QC home page
- Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws TheyWorkForYou.com
- Voting Record — Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws
- wikipedia: Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws
- Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws A radical in the House - The Guardian
- 2005-04-01 - The Register - UK commission rejects infant DNA profiling
- Author: Lester Haines
- Summary: The UK's Human Genetics Commission (HGC) has advised against a proposal to profile the DNA of every newborn infant. Although the HGC conceded that such a scheme might have benefits including allowing the advance planning of medical treatment, the ethical, legal and social concerns currently outweighed these. HGC chairwoman, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, told a press conference: "We have concluded that there are important ethical, legal and social barriers to genetic profiling of this kind, although there could be medical advantages in the future. It is important that research continues in order to establish how far profiling could be clinically useful, and it is critical that developments are kept under review."
- 2003-07-15 - BBC - Genetic revolution?
- Author: David Jessel
- Summary: Its Chair, Baroness Kennedy QC, says there needs to be a balance between embracing new technology and protecting peoples' rights. ... Some of the recommendations in the White Paper on Genetics include plans to make theft of DNA an offence and calls for consideration of new safeguards on the use of an individual's DNA by the insurance industry, employers and doctors.