Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve succeeds Trevor Phillips at Equality and Human Rights Commission


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The Independent Online

Academic Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve was today confirmed as the new chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Lady O'Neill, a 71-year-old philosopher, was named earlier this month as the Government's preferred successor to Trevor Phillips, 58, whose nine-year tenure has been dogged by controversy and internal rows.

Announcing her appointment, which follows pre-appointment scrutiny by Parliament's Joint Human Rights Committee, Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: "I am confident that Baroness O'Neill will provide the strong leadership necessary to reinvigorate and reform the EHRC during this crucial period.

"Baroness O'Neill has an inspiring track record and I look forward to seeing her progress as the EHRC is transformed into a valued and respected national institution that will continue to help deliver a free and fair society for everyone."

Lady O'Neill said she was "delighted" to take up the appointment, adding: "The work of the Commission is vital to our society and it is important it continues to promote fairness, challenge unacceptable inequalities and monitor progress in reducing them.

"I intend to ensure the EHRC continues to strive towards excellence as an effective and trusted source of expertise that delivers real value."

The Government announced a number of reforms to the EHRC earlier this year, including the appointment of a new chair and a smaller board with stronger business and governance skills.

Life peer Baroness O'Neill was educated at the fee-paying St Paul's Girls' School in west London, where Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman also studied, before reading philosophy, psychology and physiology at Somerville College, Oxford. She also studied at Harvard University.

A prolific author on political philosophy and ethics, international justice and bioethics, she is a former principal of Newnham College, Cambridge, and a previous president of the British Academy.