by Miriam Dalli ,
Valletta, Malta (November 27th 2015):-Baroness Patricia Scotland has been elected as the new secretary-general of the Commonwealth, beating two other contenders for the role.
Scotland held the position of Attorney General in Britain.
“It is such an honour to being appointed to this role,” she said in her first comments to journalists. She added that Antigua was also a winner as she was Antiguan from her father’s side.
“I am a daughter of Africa too. I am truly a child of the Commonwealth. I hope that the 53 of us will look to create a better world for our children.”
This is the first time that two of the candidates were women, with the second female candidate being Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, who served two terms as Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat from 2008-2014.
The third candidate was Sir Ronald Sanders, currently Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador Extraordinary.
But Sanders’ nomination ended up in controversy after British media reported that he was named by an investigator for receiving almost $1.4 million from an alleged fraud against Antigua’s government.
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.
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.