England

First Asian female High Court judge sworn in

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb Image copyright PA
Image caption Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb QC was first called to the bar in 1989

The first Asian woman to be appointed as a High Court judge has been sworn in at a ceremony in London.

Bobbie Cheema-Grubb QC, 49, is one of just four "non-white" High Court judges, according to HM Courts and Tribunals Service records.

Her appointment, which was announced in October, brings the number of female High Court judges to 23 out of 108.

She is described in Chambers Bar UK as a "well-respected" barrister who "relishes complex and demanding cases".

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb prosecuted retired bishop Peter Ball who was jailed after being found guilty of a string of offences against teenagers and young men.

Speaking at the ceremony, Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, said: "We have no doubt that given her energy, her wide range of commitments and her family that all of this will provide a proper balance to the day-to-day pressures of life as a busy High Court judge.

"We therefore wish to congratulate her on her appointment and with the utmost warmth we wish her well as she takes up her very important duties."

Lord Thomas also revealed the new High Court judge had wanted to be an astronaut as a teenager, adding: "Nasa's loss is our gain."


Clive Coleman, BBC legal correspondent

The recent appointments to the High Court Bench of Bobbie Cheema-Grubb and Juliet Mary May QC, who is currently a circuit judge, increase the number of women High Court judges to 23 out of 108 (21%).

That is the highest it has ever been, and represents a more than doubling of the feeble figure of 10 just a decade ago.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb's appointment also nudges the number of ethnic minority High Court judges up from three to four.

Some progress, yes, but diversity remains a stubbornly difficult problem at the higher levels of the judiciary.

It hasn't been helped by some past initiatives including the former Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine's exhortation to women and black and minority ethnic candidates to join the judiciary under the rallying cry: 'Don't be shy, apply'.

The senior judiciary is still, and is perceived to be, a predominantly white, male, middle-class group.

It will take many more Bobbie Cheema-Grubbs to change that.


Derby-born Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, who went to the City of Leeds School, was first called to the bar in 1989.

The first High Court judge from a black or minority ethnic background to be appointed was Mrs Justice Dobbs QC in 2004. She retied in 2013.

The first Asian male judge to be appointed was Mr Justice Singh, who was sworn in in 2011.

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