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Vera Baird


Vera Baird QC was born in Chadderton in 1950. Her mother was a print worker and her father – who died when Vera was aged 10 – was a maintenance painter in a cotton mill. She was inspired to study law when, as a child, she read in the local papers about Rose Heilbron’s work in murder trials. Vera studied law at Newcastle Polytechnic and was called to the Bar in 1975. She went on to establish Collingwood Chambers where she was Head of Chambers. In order to widen her experience, Vera moved to London and in 2000 was made Queen’s Counsel. Vera’s working class background has shaped her politics, her career and her campaigning. As a barrister, she represented groups opposed to the dumping of nuclear waste, striking miners, and political protestors, including the women of Greenham Common. As a politician (Vera was elected as MP for Redcar in 2001 and held ministerial office from 2006), she has been instrumental in recognising and addressing the difficulties experienced by women in the criminal justice system. In particular, Vera was closely involved in the reforms to the law on rape and the defence of provocation (following her work representing women who kill their abusive partners). She was the Chair of the Fawcett Commission on Women and Criminal Justice and was also lead minister for the Equality Act 2010. Between 2007 and 2010, Vera became the second woman ever to have held the ministerial post of Solicitor-General, and in 2012 she was elected to be Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria. One of her priorities in this role is supporting victims of domestic violence, continuing on from her lifelong work of supporting abused women in order to increase their chances of securing justice.

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