Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Sunday, 27 September 2009 17:35 UK

Profile: Baroness Scotland

Baroness Scotland
Baroness Scotland shortly after she became attorney general in 2007

Attorney General Baroness Scotland has seen her career in law and politics thrown into the spotlight by her admission that she mistakenly employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper.

She has been fined £5,000 for breaking laws brought in when she was a Home Office minister.

The housekeeper, Loloahi Tapui from Tonga, now claims that Baroness Scotland did not look at her passport before giving her the job, something the attorney general has insisted she did.

Baroness Scotland was the first woman to become attorney general when she was appointed by Gordon Brown in 2007.

The tenth of 12 children, she was born Patricia Scotland on the Caribbean island of Dominica in 1955. Her family moved to Walthamstow, east London, when she was three years old.

Baroness Scotland went to school in London and Essex and went on to study law at the University of London.

She became the first black woman to be a made a QC in 1991 before becoming the first black female government minister a decade ago.

BARONESS SCOTLAND
1955: Born on island of Dominica, the tenth of 12 children
1991: Becomes the first black female QC during a successful legal carer
2007: Appointed attorney general
2009: Admits employing an illegal worker and is fined £5,000

As a lawyer she specialised in family and public law - in particular cases involving child abuse, mental health and housing.

Baroness Scotland is a member of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship and was formerly one of Her Majesty's Commissioners for Racial Equality.

In 1985 she married barrister Richard Mawhinney. She has two sons.

After co-founding a successful legal chambers, she appeared to be on course to become a High Court judge, but her talents had caught Tony Blair's eye and in 1997 her career changed when she was made a Labour peer, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, named after Asthal in Oxfordshire.

Baroness Scotland's first government job was at the Foreign Office in 1999.

She moved to the Lord Chancellor's Department two years later and to the Home Office in 2003, where she had responsibility for reducing crime, anti-social behaviour policy, youth crime, domestic violence and race equality.

In her ministerial career Baroness Scotland has been regarded as an efficient and effective operator.

Reports have suggested that she was not Mr Brown's first choice to serve as attorney general.

He apparently first approached two Liberal Democrats, Lord Lester and Lord Carlile. The idea was apparently vetoed by the party's leader at the time, Sir Menzies Campbell.

Along with the solicitor general, the attorney general is the government's chief legal adviser on domestic and international law.

They also oversee the work of prosecutors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Serious Fraud Office in England and Wales.

Baroness Scotland has been named as the most influential person in Britain's black community in the 2009 publication of The Powerlist, which features a top 100.



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