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Baroness Onora O'Neill set to become head of Equality and Human Rights Commission


A 71-year-old, white, woman philosopher was today unveiled as the likely new chief of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Baroness Onora O'Neill was announced as the Government's preferred successor to Trevor Phillips, 58, whose nine-year reign as chairman of the body has been dogged by controversy and internal rows.

Her appointment will be scrutinised by the Joint Committee on Human Rights before it is confirmed.

Equalities Minister Maria Miller said: "This is a really important time for the EHRC - strong leadership is vital and the new chair will play a crucial role in ensuring that it remains the valued and respected national institution it was always intended to be.

"I warmly commend Baroness Onora O'Neill to the committee for this role."

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.

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

She lists her recreational interests in Who's Who as "walking and talking", while her parliamentary biography reveals her political interests to be "constitutional reform, education - especially higher education - medical ethics, languages, communication, copyright and publishing".