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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 June 2007, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Lord Goldsmith: Profile
Lord Goldsmith
Lord Goldsmith has been attorney general for six years
The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, is to stand down after holding the position for six years.

His time in office has not been without controversy, starting with his initial appointment as attorney general in 2001.

This created a political row, as many MPs thought whoever held this office should be in the Commons and not the House of Lords.

Peter Henry Goldsmith was born on 5 January, 1950 in Liverpool, where he was brought up.

He was educated at Quarry Bank High School, Liverpool, before reading law at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge, achieving a double first-class honours degree.

After a Master's Degree at University College, London, he was called to the Bar in 1972.

Prior to his appointment as attorney general he was co-chairman of the IBA's Human Rights Institute and had a glittering legal career.

He became chairman of the Law Society by the age of 40 and in 1995 was chairman of the Bar of England and Wales.

Tony Blair said that Lord Goldsmith had "made a huge contribution" to the government's success in improving the criminal justice system.

Gordon Brown added that he had given "outstanding service" to the country and that "his contribution to the country and this government has been immense, not least through transforming the Crown Prosecution Service".

Political controversies

Lord Goldsmith ran into controversy once again in 2003 when he was called upon to advise the government on the legalities of the Iraq war.

His advice was that the invasion of Iraq would be legal under international law but he has had to strongly deny claims that this decision was influenced by political pressure.

He has been vocal in his opposition to the existence of the detainees' camp at Guantanamo Bay, describing it as "unacceptable" and calling for it to be closed.

Lord Goldsmith has also faced criticism over the investigation into alleged bribes paid by BAE Systems to Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

BAE is alleged to have made payments to the prince in connection with the Saudi arms deal, with the knowledge of the Ministry of Defence.

Both the prince and BAE Systems deny receiving any improper payments and Lord Goldsmith denies claims he concealed payment details from fraud investigators.

Legal obligations

Lord Goldsmith's role in deciding whether any charges should be brought in the cash for honours investigation has also been called into question.

Should the Crown Prosecution Service decide to bring charges, some of these would require the personal consent of the attorney general.

Critics have said he should stand aside from any involvement, alleging a "conflict of interest" because of his political links to Tony Blair, who awarded him his peerage and invited him to join Cabinet meetings.

But Lord Goldsmith has insisted he cannot avoid his legal obligation. In the event that is consulted by the CPS on the cash-for-honours case, he would appoint an independent senior counsel to advise on prosecutions, he says.

Lord Goldsmith's personal life came under the spotlight early in 2007 when he admitted having an extra-marital affair.

The 57-year-old married father-of-four said his wife Joy had known about his former affair with Kim Hollis, the first Asian woman to become a QC, "for a long time".




SEE ALSO
Attorney general to leave office
22 Jun 07 |  UK Politics
Iraq detainees 'treated humanely'
29 May 07 |  UK Politics
Goldsmith defends honours stance
14 Nov 06 |  UK Politics

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