Boateng named to Privy Council

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The Independent Online
PAUL BOATENG yesterday became the first British-born black member of the Privy Council at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The Home Office minister's appointment to the council is another landmark achievement in a career which has already seen him become the first black government minister in 1997.

The profile of the Hackney-born lawyer and father of five has undergone a remarkable transformation since he was the hard left spokesman for the Greater London Council in the early 1980s. On Thursday, he was made deputy to the Home Secretary Jack Straw and given a new brief in charge of the prison and probation services.

During his time as a minister, Mr Boateng, 48, has often been outspoken and took a high profile over the publication of the official report into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence. He spoke out strongly to allay public fears during the nail-bombing campaign in London.

Although the Privy Council, which has some 500 members, includes several black representatives from Commonwealth countries, it has never contained a black Briton.

The Council was the chief source of executive power until the system of cabinet government was introduced in the 18th century. Its role is to advise the sovereign on the issue of Royal proclamations.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the final court of appeal from courts of British dependencies.