Cherie Blair, wife of former UK premier Tony Blair, has stepped down from the human rights barristers’ practice she co-founded to focus on her consultancy – advising governments, multinationals and private clients.
Ms Blair, a judge and a leading silk, co-founded the specialist chamber Matrix in 2000 along with more than 20 other barristers to concentrate on human rights and public law as well as criminal, commercial and EU law areas.
Matrix is seen as the “go-to set for all civil liberties and human rights work“ according to legal guide Chambers & Partners.
The practice includes other leading silks such as Ben Emmerson QC, a human rights law specialist, who is currently representing the widow of poisoned Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko and Thomas Linden QC, a leading employment barrister.
Ms Blair, who works under her maiden name Booth and is an elite Queen’s counsel, said she had made the decision to focus on international legal and advisory work through Omnia Strategy, which she chairs.
Omnia has offices in Washington and London and provides strategic counsel to governments, multinational companies and private clients.
During her time at Matrix, Ms Blair argued cases in the House of Lords, one of the most well-known being the Shabina Begum case. This turned on whether a decision by a school to exclude a female pupil for wearing a full jilbab, or traditional Muslim gown, infringed her religious rights under article nine of the European Convention on Human Rights. Top QCs such as Ms Blair can command up to £1,000 an hour.
Ms Blair said: “It has been a privilege to be part of the team at Matrix for the last 14 years, and to have been able to develop my practice alongside so many first class, dedicated colleagues.”
Rhodri Thompson QC, who chairs the management committee of Matrix and was a founder member with Mrs Blair in 2000, thanked her. “We are, of course, sad to see one of our original leaders leave the organisation that she helped to create.” he said.
In addition to her role at Omnia Strategy, Mrs Blair will also continue to work independently as an international arbitrator.
She was designated to serve on the International Council for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) panel of arbitrators in 2012 and is a panellist at the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration.
Ms Blair, a staunch advocate for women’s rights, was brought up by a single mother in Liverpool and graduated from the London School of Economics before coming top of her year in the Bar finals when she qualified as a barrister.
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