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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 February, 2004, 12:00 GMT
Cherie wants more women judges
Cherie Booth
Cherie Booth: The law should not be the preserve of the middle class
Prime Minister Tony Blair's lawyer wife Cherie Booth QC has called for more women to be given top jobs in the judiciary.

Speaking at Durham University, she said it was alarming that whilst almost 50% of law students were women, only 6% of the judiciary were female.

She was giving the university's annual St John's Borderland's lecture - traditionally given by a leading legal figure.

She told a packed audience that the law must be more open to "consumers" and "practitioners".

In a wide-ranging lecture, which she titled Justice: A Personal and Communal Challenge, Ms Booth said she wanted to see people "doing" law from as diverse a range of backgrounds as those who are subject to it.

Human rights

She said: "Law should not just be the preserve of middle class white men."

She hit out at the "minute" numbers of people from ethnic minority backgrounds practising law in England and Wales.

Ms Booth, who emphasised her faith as a practising Roman Catholic, pinpointed the importance of human rights.

She told the audience that whilst human rights were always thought of as something concerning people in other countries, they had a local dimension as well.

She said: "A concern for global human rights grows out of the local community, where healthcare, schools and meeting the needs of those with disabilities are just some of the key issues relating to justice."

Faced with several questions about human rights issues facing her husband's government, Ms Booth stressed the need for a balance between individual human rights and the human rights of others "in a context of social responsibility."

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