Vera Baird: Wikis

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Vera Baird
 QC MP


Incumbent
Assumed office 
29 June 2007
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Mike O'Brien

Member of Parliament
for Redcar
Incumbent
Assumed office 
7 June 2001
Preceded by Mo Mowlam
Majority 12,116 (31.2%)

Born 13 February 1951 (1951-02-13) (age 58)
Oldham, Lancashire, UK
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Alma mater Newcastle Polytechnic, Open University[1], University of Teesside

Vera Baird (nee Thomas, 13 February 1951) is a British Labour politician, author and barrister, who has been the Member of Parliament for Redcar since 2001; she currently serves in the Government as the Solicitor General.

Contents

Early life

Baird was born in 1951 in Oldham, Lancashire, and was educated at the Chadderton Grammar School for Girls (now called The Radclyffe School, and comprehensive since 1975) and then at Newcastle Polytechnic where she studied Law, gaining an LLB.[2] In 1983 she gained a BA in Literature and Modern History. She is currently studying for an MPhil (History) at the University of Teesside.[3]

She was the parish council clerk of Ludworth parish council in County Durham in the late 1970s when known as Vera Taylor-Gooby.

Baird joined the Labour Party in 1971 and was Called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1975. Until her appointment to government she was a practising barrister working in the Chambers of Michael Mansfield alongside Patrick Roche, the husband of her former parliamentary colleague, Barbara Roche. She took Silk in 2000, 25 years after becoming a barrister, and has said that the Queen’s Counsel system is in need of reform to make it more transparent.[4]

She has written several books concerning rape and women's experiences in court and a book on women murderers. She is also a visiting Fellow at St Hilda's College, Oxford.

Parliamentary career

At the 1983 general election, Baird unsuccessfully contested the constituency of Berwick-upon-Tweed, finishing in third place, behind the victor Alan Beith. At the 2001 general election she was selected to contest the ultra-safe Labour seat of Redcar, following the retirement of the sitting MP and former Cabinet minister, Mo Mowlam.

Following the 2005 general election, Baird became the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke.

On 8 May 2006, she was appointed as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Constitutional Affairs - which was renamed the Ministry of Justice in May 2007, following the reorganisation of the Home Office. In June 2007, newly appointed Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed Baird Solicitor General for England and Wales.

Controversies

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Unfounded criticism of Judge

In 2006 Baird was forced to apologise for publicly criticising a judge's sentencing. Baird suggest the judge had been too lenient, stating he had made three separate mistakes in calculating the correct sentence for a sex offender. However, she retracted the criticism when it emerged the judge had in fact followed the guidelines correctly.[5] Judge Keith Cutler was particularly critical of Baird's conduct, suggesting that her stance could force judges to break their tradition of silence when criticised.[6]

Expenses

In May 2009 the Daily Telegraph revealed that Baird had inappropriately attempted to claims for £286 of Christmas decorations using her expense allowance. Baird has described the goods as "miscellaneous items", but House of Common officials noticed the nature of the items on the receipt and refused to pay. Baird also benefited from the Additional Costs Allowance (more commonly known as the 'second homes' allowance) by designating her London flat as her main home while claiming allowances for the four-bedroomed property in her constituency she has designated as her second home.[7] She also earns an annual salary of £125,602.[8]

Alleged public order offence

In 2009 Baird was involved in an altercation with a mother and young child at King's Cross railway station in relation to Baird's dog fouling the platform. The incident was investigated by the police, and Daily Mail newspaper claimed that police were considering if Baird had potentially committed a public order offence.[9] After a six week investigation, the British Transport Police decided not to take any action.[10] Baird denied any wrongdoing and claims the police have apologised to her following her complaints about their attidude.[11]

Personal life

Baird married David Taylor-Gooby in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1972, and has two step sons. They later divorced, and she married Robert Brian Baird (born July 1928) in 1978 in County Durham, a year before he died in 1979.

References

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Mo Mowlam
Member of Parliament for Redcar
2001–present
Incumbent
Legal offices
Preceded by
Mike O'Brien
Solicitor General for England and Wales
2007–present
Incumbent

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