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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
High Court gets first black judge
Linda Dobbs
Linda Dobbs has said she is following a career path
A woman QC who has become the first black person to be appointed as a High Court judge says she will be "the first of many".

Linda Dobbs was speaking after the Department of Constitutional Affairs confirmed that the 53-year-old would take up her senior role in October.

In England and Wales there are just nine black circuit judges amongst the 623, or 1.4%.

Ms Dobbs is the first person from a non-white ethnic minority to join the High Court.

'Great honour'

The appointment comes as the government tries to increase diversity in the judiciary and reform a profession which has traditionally recruited men from an overwhelmingly white middle class background.

Judges in traditional garb
The judiciary in England and Wales is predominantly white and male

In a statement Ms Dobbs said: "It is a great honour to have been invited by the Lord Chancellor to become a High Court judge.

"Whilst this appointment might be seen as casting me into the role of standard bearer, I am simply a practitioner following a career path. I am confident, nevertheless, that I am the first of many to come."

In September 2003, Ms Dobbs was appointed as chairman of the Criminal Bar Association but has stepped down following her decision to work on the High Court bench.

Ms Dobbs has published books and articles on road traffic law and her main areas of work include white collar crime, Customs and Excise cases and serious sexual offences.

She has worked as a barrister in both prosecution and defence and was called to the bar in 1981.

The post comes with an annual salary of 150,878.

Although Ms Dobbs is the first person from a "visible" minority ethnic community to join the High Court, the present Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Woolf, is among a number of top judges to have hailed from the UK's Jewish community.

Drive for 'minority' magistrates
02 Jul 04  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Courts turn off ethnic minorities
11 Jul 03  |  Derbyshire

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