Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In role
2 May 1997  27 June 2007
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Norma Major
Succeeded by Sarah Brown
Personal details
Born Theresa Cara Booth
(1954-09-23) 23 September 1954
Bury, Lancashire, England, UK
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Tony Blair (m. 1980)
Relations Lauren Booth (paternal half-sister)
Patricia Phoenix (stepmother)
Children 4
Parents Antony Booth
Gale Howard
Alma mater London School of Economics
The University of Law
Profession Barrister
Religion Roman Catholicism

Cherie Blair CBE QC (née Booth; born 23 September 1954), known as Cherie Blair or professionally as Cherie Booth, is a British barrister and lecturer. She is married to the former prime minister, Tony Blair.

Early life and education

Booth was born at Fairfield Hospital, Bury, Lancashire, England,[1] and brought up in Ferndale Road, Waterloo, Lancashire, just north of Liverpool. Her father, British actor Tony Booth, left her mother, actress Gale Howard (February 14th 1933- 5th June 2016) (née Joyce Smith), when Cherie was 8 years old. Cherie and her younger sister Lyndsey were then brought up by Gale and their paternal grandmother Vera Booth, a devout Roman Catholic of Irish descent. The sisters attended Catholic schools in Crosby,[2] Lancashire. Cherie Booth attended Seafield Convent Grammar, which is now part of Sacred Heart Catholic College, where she achieved 4 Grade-A GCE A Level passes.

She read law at the London School of Economics and graduated with First-Class Honours. Later she was enrolled at the College of Law and passed her BVC.[3] She came at the top of her year in the bar exams,[4] while teaching law at the Polytechnic of Central London (University of Westminster). She was the Labour candidate for the Conservative safe seat of North Thanet in Kent in the 1983 general election, losing to Roger Gale.[5]

Career as advocate

A member of Lincoln's Inn, she became a barrister in 1976 and Queen's Counsel in 1995. Until 1988, her head of chambers was George Carman. In 1999, she was appointed a Recorder (a permanent part-time judge) in the County Court and Crown Court.

She is a founding member of Matrix Chambers in London from which she continues to practise as a barrister. Matrix was formed in 2000 specialising in human rights law, though members also practise in a range of areas of UK public and private law, the Law of the European Union and European Convention on Human Rights, and public international law.[6] She is Founder and Chair of Omnia Strategy LLP, a law firm.[7] She specialises in employment, discrimination, and public law and, in this capacity, has occasionally represented claimants taking cases against the UK Government.[8]

Cherie Blair has appeared in a number of leading cases. A notable example before the European Court of Justice was concerned with discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.[9] In November 2007, she expressed interest in becoming a senior judge.[10]

In January 2010, when sentencing a defendant, Shamso Miah, for assault, Recorder Booth (Blair) announced that she would suspend his prison sentence after describing him as a "religious man". The court heard that Miah had been to a mosque shortly before he broke a man's jaw following a row in a bank queue. Blair told Miah: "You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour." This was interpreted by some observers as special leniency given on account of the criminal's religiosity.[11][12] The Office for Judicial Complaints released an initial statement saying they had "received a number of complaints in relation to the comments" that Blair had made when sentencing Shamso Miah and that the matter was under investigation.[13] On 10 June 2010, the OJC released a statement saying that the investigation had "found that Recorder Booth's observations did not constitute judicial misconduct" and accordingly "no disciplinary action is necessary".[14] A private letter to the National Secular Society said, however, that the OJC had taken action in the form of "informal advice" from a more senior judge.[15]

Blair launched a company called Mee Healthcare with an American business partner Gail Lese in 2011. In June 2015, it ceased trading; all staff were made redundant.[16]

Career in academia

She was the 3rd Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University from 1999–2006. On 26 July 2006, was awarded the honorary title of Emerita Chancellor, as well as the university honorarily naming its new Cherie Booth Building. She is also Governor of the London School of Economics and the Open University. On 2 March 2011, Cherie Blair was appointed the Chancellor of the Asian University for Women.[17]

Honours and charity work

In July 1999, Blair was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of the University (DUniv) from the Open University. Blair is a patron of Breast Cancer Care, a UK breast cancer information and support charity, Jospice, the international hospice organisation based in her home town of Crosby,[18] and disability charity Scope.[19] She is also involved with the British branch of Child in Need India (CINI UK), and is the organisation's patron.[20][21]

In 2008 she launched her foundation the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, a development organisation that aims to support women entrepreneurs in developing countries. "Our mission is to provide women with the skills, technology, networks and access to capital that they need to become successful small and growing business owners, so that they can contribute to their economies and have a stronger voice in their societies," says its mission statement.[22]

She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to women's issues and charity.[23]


In 2002, Blair purchased two flats in Bristol with the assistance, it was alleged but later denied, of Peter Foster, a convicted Australian conman and boyfriend of Blair's friend Carole Caplin, who negotiated a discount for Blair.[24] Blair publicly apologised for her embarrassing connection to Foster, stating "I did not think it was my business to choose my friends' friends".[24]

Her relationship with Caplin gave rise to headlines in some newspapers, as Caplin is credited with introducing Blair to various New Age symbols and beliefs.[25] Reports of Blair's New Age practices included an account of her 2001 holiday in Mexico, when she and her husband, wearing only swimming costumes, privately took part in a rebirthing procedure that involved smearing mud and fruit over each other's bodies while sitting in a steam bath.[26]

In 2002, she apologised after saying within hours of a Jerusalem blast that killed at least 19 people in reference to the Palestinian suicide bombers: "As long as young people feel they have no hope but to blow themselves up, we're never going to make progress, are we?"[27][28]

On 12 December 2008 Blair gave a lecture alternatively entitled "The Church and Women's Rights: time for a fresh perspective?"[29] or "Religion as a Force in protecting Women's Human Rights"[30][31] at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum, in Rome.[30][32]

In summer 2015, in the wake of the Hillary Clinton email controversy, Blair was revealed by The Guardian to have lobbied Clinton in 2009 on behalf of prominent members of the Qatari monarchy; Clinton was US Secretary of State at the time.[33][34] In a letter to the newspaper, Blair denied this characterisation of her mediation efforts, describing their story as "sensationalist and inaccurate".[35]

Precisely two months later, the release of another batch of Clinton's private emails confirmed that Blair had, indeed, arranged meetings with Clinton for the Qataris outside normal diplomatic channels, with discussions to involve "the US/Qatar relationship generally", not merely joint philanthropic efforts. In one case, Blair herself stated that her purpose was to help the eldest of Sheikha Mosah's sons, Jasim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, "build up an international profile".[36]

In summer 2015, Blair's law firm accepted a large fee to advise the autocratic Maldives government as it faced a challenge from former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed over his imprisonment for "terrorism". Nasheed, who served during 2008–12 as his country's first democratically elected leader, is seeing out a 13-year term after a widely criticised trial.[37][38]

Personal life


Euan (left) and Cherie Blair at the Red Bull Air Race in 2007 in London

In 1976, while she was studying to become a barrister, she met future Prime Minister and husband Tony Blair. She obtained a pupillage in the chambers of Derry Irvine ahead of him, although he was also taken on. Married on 29 March 1980, the Blairs have three sons and one daughter: Euan (born 1984), Nicholas (born 1985), Leo (born 2000), and Kathryn (born 1988).[39][40]

Leo, born 2000, was the first child born to a serving British Prime Minister in over 150 years, since Francis Russell was born to Lord John Russell on 11 July 1849. Another pregnancy at the age of 47 ended in miscarriage in early August 2002.[41] The Blair children attended Catholic secondary schools. All four children have Irish passports, by virtue of Tony Blair's mother, Hazel Elizabeth Corscadden, a Protestant, the daughter of George Corscadden, a butcher and Orangeman who moved to Glasgow in 1916 but returned to Ballyshannon in 1923, where Hazel was born to George and Sarah Margaret (née Lipsett), above her family's grocery shop.[42] Via her father, Blair and her younger sister Lyndsey have six half-sisters, including British journalist Lauren Booth.

Political and religious views

Blair has described herself as a socialist and, at times, has appeared to have views further to the left than those of her husband.[43] In March 2008 she chaired the Street Weapons Commission on behalf of the broadcaster Channel 4. She toured the UK and took evidence from people affected by street crime and published a report and practical advice in June 2008.[44]

She is a practising Roman Catholic.[45] In 2009, Blair urged the Catholic Church to reconsider its hardline stance against artificial contraception, suggesting it could be holding some women back from pursuing a career.[46]

In George W. Bush's 2010 autobiography Decision Points, Blair is briefly described as a fierce opponent of the death penalty.[47]

Portrayals and coverage in books, film and theatre

Blair wrote a book of her memoirs, published in late May 2008, entitled Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography,[48] and the book was listed as a Sunday Times best-seller. Interviewed about the book by Carole MacNeil on the Canadian network CBC Television on 1 June 2008, Blair stated that she felt most of the controversy about her in the British media was due to her pioneering role as the first wife of a British Prime Minister who had her own career, with the media simply not knowing how to treat her fairly and objectively.[49]

Played by Helen McCrory, Blair features as a character in The Queen (2006), starring Helen Mirren, about the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, and is portrayed as a fierce anti-monarchist. McCrory played her again in the 2010 HBO film The Special Relationship. Cherie Blair also features as a character in Chris Bush and Ian McCluskey's production TONY! The Blair Musical.[50] Phoebe Nicholls played her in The Trial of Tony Blair (2007). She was also a subject in Shoot The Dog, a song by George Michael that was critical of the Iraq war.

Robert Harris's fictional thriller, The Ghost, features a pivotal character, Ruth Lang, inspired by Blair,[51] who is revealed to be under the influence of the CIA. She is portrayed by Olivia Williams in the 2010 film adaptation by Roman Polanski.


  1. Blair, Cherie (2008). p 9.
  2. "Merseyside" didn't exist until 1 April 1974
  3. West, Karl (26 February 2012). "Law school's £200m sale". Sunday Times. Retrieved 2 June 2016 (subscription needed for full access).
  4. "Profile: Cherie Blair". BBC News. 19 June 2002. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  5. Walker, Tim (13 September 2009). "Cherie Blair plans to be Gordon Brown's secret weapon at the election". Daily Telegraph. London, UK: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  6. "Matrix Chambers".
  7. "Omnia Team » Cherie Blair CBE, QC". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  8. "Purja & Ors, R (on the application of) v Ministry of Defence [2003] EWHC 445 (Admin) (21 February 2003)". Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  9. "CURIA – Search form". Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  10. Doughty, Steve (14 November 2007). "Me a top judge? Maybe, says Cherie". Daily Mail. London, UK. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  11. "Complaint after Cherie Booth spares religious man jail". BBC News. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  12. Taylor, Jerome (4 February 2010). "Secular society upset by Judge Cherie decision". The Independent. London, UK. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  13. "Statement from the office of judicial complaints" (PDF). OJC. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  14. "Investigation Statement – Recorder Cherie Booth QC" (PDF). Office for Judicial Complaints. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  15. "Cover-up claim over Cherie Blair court remark to Muslim". BBC News. 19 June 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  16. "Cherie Blair's healthcare company goes bust and staff laid off". Metro. 20 June 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  17. "Cherie Blair Named Chancellor of Asian University for Women". PR Newswire. UBM plc. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  18. "Cherie Blair opens extension at Jospice in Thornton". YouTube. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  19. "Our Patrons". Scope. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  20. "Cherie Blair profile". Cherie Blair. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  21. "Child in Need India". CINI. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  22. "Cherie Blair Foundation for Women". Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  23. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60367. p. 7. 29 December 2012.
  24. 1 2 "Cherie says 'sorry' for Foster dealings", BBC, 10 December 2002
  25. Cohen, Nick (10 December 2002). "Nick Cohen: Ev'rybody must get stones". The Observer. London. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  26. How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World, Francis Wheen, Harper Perennial 2004, ISBN 0-00-714097-5
  27. Glover, Julian (9 February 2005). "Cherie under attack: from fur in flight to freebies". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  28. "PM's wife 'sorry' in suicide bomb row". BBC News. 18 June 2002. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  29. accessed 1 December 2014
  30. 1 2 Crawley, William (6 December 2008). "Pro-life campaigners urge Catholic university to ban Cherie Blair". Will & Testament. BBC. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  32. accessed 1 December 2014
  33. Roberts, Dan; Gibson, Owen (1 July 2015). "Hillary Clinton lobbied by Cherie Blair to meet Qatari royal, emails reveal". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  34. "Hillary Clinton may have broken US secrecy rules with emails from Tony Blair and Downing Street", 1 September 2015.
  35. Blair, Cherie (3 July 2015). "I did not lobby on behalf of Qatari royal". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  36. Harding, Luke (1 September 2015). "Hillary Clinton emails: Cherie Blair lobbied for Qatari crown prince". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  37. Sherwell, Philip (9 September 2015). "Amal Clooney v Cherie Blair: Maldives paradise islands stage battle of UK female lawyers". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  38. "Conduct of trial of Maldives' ex-President raises serious concerns". United Nations. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  39. "Facts: Life and times of Tony Blair". Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  40. "Blair's son 'drunk and incapable'". BBC News. 6 July 2000.
  41. "Cherie Blair suffers miscarriage". BBC News. 6 August 2002. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  42. Mcdonagh, Melanie (13 September 2009). "Names that mean trouble". Sunday Times. London, UK. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011.
  43. Kettle, Martin (17 May 2008). "Martin Kettle interviews Cherie Blair". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  44. Conlan, Tara (26 March 2008). "Cherie Booth tackles street crime with Channel 4". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  45. "Faith". The Times. London. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  46. "Blair: end Church's hard line on birth control". Herald Scotland. 31 August 2009.
  47. Bush, George W. (2010). Decision Points. New York, NY: Crown Publishers. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-307-59061-9.
  48. Blair, Cherie (2008). Book cover
  49. CBC Television, 1 June 2008; interview by Carole MacNeil
  50. (subscription required)
  51. "The PM, his glamorous aide and a jealous wife... but it's just a novel". Daily Mail. London. 18 September 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2013.


Cited texts

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Cherie Blair
Academic offices
Preceded by
John Moores, Jr.
Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University
Succeeded by
Brian May
New office Chancellor of the Asian University for Women
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Norma Major
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Sarah Brown
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