Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, Baroness Butler-Sloss

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The Right Honourable
The Baroness Butler-Sloss
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
President of the Family Division
of the High Court of Justice
In office
1999 – April 2005
Succeeded by Sir Mark Potter
Lord Justice of Appeal
In office
High Court judge
(Family Division)
In office
Personal details
Born Ann Elizabeth Oldfield Havers
(1933-08-10) 10 August 1933 (age 88)
Buckinghamshire, UK
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Joseph William Alexander Butler-Sloss (m. 1958)
Relations Sir Cecil Havers (father)
Lord Havers (brother)
Nigel Havers (nephew)
Philip Havers (nephew)
Children Frances (b. 1959)
Robert (b. 1962)
William (b. 1967)
Religion Anglican

Ann Elizabeth Oldfield Butler-Sloss, Baroness Butler-Sloss, GBE, PC (born 10 August 1933, née Havers) is a retired English judge. She was the first female Lord Justice of Appeal and, until 2004, was the highest-ranking female judge in the United Kingdom. Until June 2007, she chaired the inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed. She stood down from that task with effect from that date, and the inquest was conducted by Lord Justice Scott Baker.

Early life

The daughter of Sir Cecil Havers, a judge and Enid Flo Havers (née Snelling), she was sister to the late Lord Chancellor, the Lord Havers, and is aunt to his sons, the actor Nigel Havers and the barrister Philip Havers. She was educated at Broomfield House School in Kew in west London, and Wycombe Abbey School in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, followed by a year at the University of Lausanne.[1]

She stood as the Conservative candidate for Vauxhall in the 1959 General Election, where she won 38% of the vote but was defeated by the Labour MP George Strauss.

Legal career

She was called to the Bar from the Inner Temple in 1955. In 1958, she married Joseph Butler-Sloss. She was appointed a Registrar at the Principal Registry of the Family Division in 1970. In 1979, she became the fourth woman to be appointed a High Court judge,[2] after Elizabeth Lane, Rose Heilbron, and Margaret Booth. As were all previous female High Court judges, she was assigned to the Family Division. She was also made a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE).[3]

In 1988, she became the first woman appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal (judge of the Court of Appeal),[4] having chaired the Cleveland child abuse inquiry in the previous year. In 1999, she became President of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice,[5] the first woman to hold this position and the highest-ranking woman judge in the United Kingdom until Brenda Hale became the first female Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, in January 2004.

She was advanced to the rank of Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 2005 New Year Honours.[6] On 12 January 2005, it was announced that she was retiring, being replaced as President of the Family Division by Sir Mark Potter, then a Lord Justice of Appeal.

On 3 May 2006, it was announced by the House of Lords Appointments Commission that she would be one of seven new life peers – so-called 'people's peers'.[7] She was created Baroness Butler-Sloss, of Marsh Green in the County of Devon, on 13 June 2006.[8] On 4 August 2006 she was appointed to the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved for a period of five years.[9]

On 7 September 2006 she was appointed as Deputy Coroner of the Queen's Household and Assistant Deputy Coroner for Surrey for the purpose of hearing the inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. On 2 March 2007, she was appointed as Assistant Deputy Coroner for Inner West London for the purpose of transferring the jurisdiction of the inquest to Inner West London so that the proceedings may sit in the Royal Courts of Justice. On 24 April 2007, she announced she was stepping down in June 2007, saying she lacked the experience required to deal with an inquest with a jury. The role of coroner for the inquests was transferred to Lord Justice Scott Baker. This had been preceded by the overturning by the High Court of her earlier decision to hold the inquest without a jury.[citation needed]

She became Chancellor of the University of the West of England in 1993 and an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, Peterhouse, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, King's College London, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. She sits on the Selection Panel for Queen's Counsel. In December 2004 she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Bath, and in June 2005 she was awarded an honorary degree from the Open University as Doctor of the University. She was Chairman of the Security Commission prior to its abolition in 2010.[citation needed]

On 8 July 2014, it was announced that Baroness Butler-Sloss would chair the forthcoming large-scale inquiry into cases of child sex abuse in previous decades.[10] She stood down on 14 July after mounting pressure from victims' groups and MPs over her suitability regarding the fact that her brother was the Attorney General at the time of some of the abuses in question.[11][12]

Personal life

She and her husband, Joseph William Alexander Butler-Sloss, have three children:[13]

  • Hon. Frances Ann Josephine Butler-Sloss (now Richmond) (b. 13 October 1959);
  • Hon. Robert Joseph Neville Galmoye Butler-Sloss (b. 15 July 1962);
  • Hon. William Edmund Patchell Minchin Butler-Sloss (b. 21 September 1967)

Baroness Butler-Sloss is a church-going Anglican. In 2002 she chaired the Crown Appointments charged with the selection of a new Archbishop of Canterbury. She was Chairman of the Advisory Council of St Paul's Cathedral from 2000 - 2009.[1] Baroness Butler-Sloss currently serves as Chair for the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life.[14] As of 2015, she lives in East Devon.[15]

Famous judgments

  • Re B (Consent to Treatment: Capacity) [2002] EWHC 429
  • Re T (Consent to Medical Treatment)(Adult Patient) [1993] Fam. 95


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Why I am Still an Anglican", Continuum 2006, p. 48
  2. The London Gazette: no. 47968. p. 12354. 2 October 1979. Retrieved 4 January 2008.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 51202. p. 599. 18 January 1980. Retrieved 4 January 2008.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 48072. p. 899. 19 January 1988. Retrieved 4 January 2008.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 55633. p. 10807. 11 October 1999. Retrieved 4 January 2008.
  6. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57509. p. 7. 31 December 2004. Retrieved 4 January 2008.
  7. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57972. p. 6055. 3 May 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2008.
  8. The London Gazette: no. 58013. p. 8261. 16 June 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2008.
  9. The London Gazette: no. 58062. p. 10685. 4 August 2006. Retrieved 21 November 2007.
  10. "Ex-senior judge Butler-Sloss to head child sex abuse inquiry". BBC News. 8 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Butler-Sloss urged to stand aside". BBC News. 14 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Butler-Sloss stands down". BBC News. 14 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. The Peerage.com website
  14. Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life website http://www.corab.org.uk/background-information. Retrieved December 2015. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Lympstone child rapist found guilty despite Butler-Sloss support". Express & Echo. 18 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Stephen Brown
President of the Family Division
Succeeded by
Sir Mark Potter