Cherie is an active supporter of human rights, focusing her work as a barrister on helping people who have been abused. She also travels around the world, speaking in many events about the importance of recognizing the benefit of equal treatment between men and women, and how they can work together to further improve the situation of their country.
She was born Theresa Cara Booth in 1954 at Fairfield Hospital in Lancashire, the daughter of Tony Booth and Gale Howard (a.k.a. Joyce Smith)—both actors. Cherie spent her childhood at their home in Liverpool with her younger sister, Lyndsey.
Cherie’s parents had different motives for joining show business. Her father, Tony, became an actor by accident when he flirted with a colonel’s wife who was passionately involved with amateur drama acting. Seeing this as an opportunity to enter the stage, Tony decided that this would be his career for the rest of his life, largely due to showbusiness “presenting him with plenty of opportunities in terms of the ladies.”
Her mother, Joyce, however, took the acting career more seriously, focusing on her drama career after she left her home, partly so that she can take care of her younger siblings.
Joyce met Tony at the Earl Armstrong Repertory Company while acting on stage. Later on, they became on-stage love partners, which further developed the budding romance between the two. In early 1954, they got married and six months later, Cherie was born.
When Cherie was only eight years old, Tony left Joyce and his two daughters. It devastated Joyce as she was not only left without a husband; her two daughters would neither have a father to take care of them nor a male figure to look up to. After this incident, Vera Booth—Cherie’s paternal grandmother—took care of Joyce and her daughters and raised them from that time on. Later on, Cherie would discover that she has six half-sisters from her father.
Cherie studied at the Seafield Convent Grammar, and received four Grade A GCE A levels. During her time in school, Cherie became very popular with her classmates and teachers due to her intellect and witty personality.
Cherie attended the London School of Economics where she studied law. During her college years she was a bright student and was often praised by her professors for her hard work and intelligence. She graduated with first class honours and earned her degree in law. She then applied for the Polytechnic of Central London in the University of Westminster as a teacher and top-notched that year’s bar exams.
Marrying Tony Blair
In 1976, Cherie Booth was called to the Bar and began to study further to achieve her goal of becoming a barrister. Although the chambers of Derry Irvine, a baron of Lairg, were already filled at that time, Cherie was still able to get a pupillage there. While studying, she met a fellow barrister named Tony Blair, whom she became attracted to. After four years of close relationship with each other, the couple finally decided to take their relationship to another level, so in 1980, Tony Blair married Cherie Booth. On their wedding day, Derry Irvine jokingly dubbed himself the “Cupid QC” for introducing Cherie and Tony to one another.
Getting Pregnant and Giving Birth at 45 Years Old
Cherie bore Tony four children: Euan (born 1984), Nicholas (born 1985), Kathryn (born 1988), and Leo (born 2000). Cherie’s child, Leo, became the second son to be born to a serving Prime Minister, the first one being born over 150 years ago. Cherie gave birth to their last child when she was 45. Cherie again became pregnant in 2002, but ended in a miscarriage, which devastated her.
Cherie’s legal career was extensive and successful, which allowed her to build her name as one of Britain’s most respectable and successful barristers. She became a full-fledged barrister in 1976 and throughout the course of her career, was considered one of the most successful barristers in the business.
From 1976 to 1988, George Carman became her head of chambers. In 1995, she was appointed as a Queens Counsel. She was also appointed a Recorder in 1999 in both County Court and Crown Court. Her work in court also led her to become one of the founding members of the Matrix Chambers, a group of high-profile barristers that are working in the field of human rights.
Aside from human rights, the members of Matrix also practice in the Law of the European Union, Public International Law as well as United Kingdom public and private laws. As for Cherie, she has focused her practice in the areas of employment, public law, and discrimination. She often represents people who are taking cases against the government.
Political Career and Charity
Cherie has participated in many leading cases throughout her career as a barrister. Many of these cases are in the area of human rights and discrimination, like the sexual orientation discrimination case that she presented to the European Court of Justice. In 2007, Cherie expressed her interest in furthering her legal career by becoming a senior judge.
Cherie also engaged in politics, albeit not with as much energy and time she spends on her charity work and legal career. In the 1983 general elections of the United Kingdom, Cherie tried to contest the North Thanet seat in Kent for Labour but ultimately lost to Roger Gale.
Cherie oftentimes describes herself as a socialist and a leftist, and at some times has even presented views that are further to the left than her husband’s. She promotes social equality and encourages women to take part in public service in order to fully optimize and utilize intellectual ability to improve the lives of people living under the government.
In March 2008, Cherie was appointed as the chairwoman of the Street Weapons Commission for Channel 4. During her time as chairwoman, Cherie established a team and toured the towns and cities of the United Kingdom, taking photos and testimonies from people that were affected by street crime. By June of that year, she released a report regarding the dangers of street crime and the effects of it in the lives of the people. She also published a practical advice on how people can turn to the government to seek help against street crime.
Cherie has also participated in educational affairs, often seen giving speeches on how important education is to improving the state of a country. In interviews, Cherie states that a lack of knowledge leads a country into ruin; therefore, promoting education among the young population is essential.
She became the third Chancellor of the Liverpool John Moores University from 1999 to 2006. In July of 2006, Cherie was honoured by the university by naming a new building after her and granting her the honorary title of Emeritus Chancellor. Currently, she is also the governor of the Open University and the London School of Economics.
In 2011, Cherie was appointed the Chancellor of the Asian University of Women. She has since then exerted effort in helping the students by promoting the awareness of Women’s Rights and encouraging them to play a role in the development of society.
The Controversial Friendship with Carole Caplin
Throughout the course of her career, Cherie has been involved in several controversies. One of the most well-known was her friendship with Carole Caplin, who was the girlfriend of Peter Foster, an Australian convict. In 2002, Cherie was alleged to have been assisted by Peter Foster in the purchase of two flats in Bristol. She denied the allegations but did apologize publicly for having had connections to Foster through Caplin, stating:
"I did not think it was my business to choose my friends' friends."
Cherie was also alleged to have been introduced to New Age beliefs through her friend Caplin. In some of the reports, an account is given where Cherie and her husband participated in a “rebirthing” event that involved smearing mud over their bodies while in a hot bath.
Aside from her friendship with Caplin, Cherie Blair was involved with several other controversies such as the speech she made concerning a Jerusalem blast where around nineteen people were killed. She publicly apologized later on for her choice of words. Cherie was also criticized for saying that that Catholic Church should reconsider its stance regarding contraception—she claimed that those who are against contraception are holding women from pursuing careers.
In 2010, the Office of Judicial Complaints released a statement investigating complaints against Cherie Blair for allegations of her taking a man’s religion into account when she sentenced him for assault. Another statement was released that the OJC did not find Cherie’s observations offensive nor did they constitute judicial misconduct. No disciplinary action was required. The issue was resolved soon after.
Cherie was also involved in a controversy concerning her law firm, the Matrix, being hired to defend Ramush Haradinaj, an Albanian war criminal, resulting in him being acquitted of war crimes against Serbia.
In all of these controversies, one thing could be noticed of Cherie—she has remained strong-willed and adamant. She did not let her detractors weigh her down. She saw her goal and focused on it, not letting anyone talk her out of it. This attitude allowed her to endure the trials and maintain her composure in spite of all the controversies.
Supports Over 20 Charitable Organizations
Currently, Cherie spends a lot of time on charity work, supporting over 20 charitable organizations that are dedicated mostly to promoting women and children’s rights, offering employment opportunities or defending human rights. Cherie goes around the world often giving speeches and participating in programs that are done by these organizations, promoting human rights and encouraging people to stand up for their right to be free and live according to the provisions set by their government.
Cherie is actively supporting many of these organizations and is even part of the leadership in some. She is an honorary vice president of Barnardo's, president of Loomba Foundation, and a member of the Labour Party since her teens. She is a patron of many charitable organizations, such as SCOPE and Breast Cancer Care.
In 2008, Cherie founded the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, a charitable foundation that aims to promote women’s rights, give them a voice, encourage and empower women to take part in the development of their society’s economic and political situation.
Autobiography becomes a Sunday Times Bestseller
Her foundation coordinates with many pro-women organizations throughout the world to develop projects that would help the women in that country, teaching them and encouraging them to become self-sustaining business people. In that same year, Cherie also published her autobiography entitled “Speaking for Myself,” which became a Sunday Times bestseller.
In 2009, Cherie was said to be diagnosed with suspected swine flu. Because of this, she had to cancel numerous public engagements, including her visit to Hope University where she was going to receive an honorary degree, while the doctors treated her. After giving her a course of Tamiflu, Cherie recovered and resumed her public duties.
Last 2011, Cherie Blair was appointed by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be the Vice Chairman of the International Council of Women’s Business Leadership. More recently, in January 2013, she was conferred the Commander of the Order of the British Empire award in recognition of her efforts and services to issues pertaining women’s rights as well as for her charitable works.
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
- The London Legal Support Trust
- Home Start Islington
- The Emmaus 2010 Initiative
- Stop the Traffik
- Believe to Achieve
- Family Mediators Association
- European Federation of Black Women Business Owners
- St. Joseph’s Hospice Association
- Breast Cancer Care
- CLIC Sargent
- Downside Up
- Solar Aid
- Africa Justice Foundation
- Citizenship Foundation
- Shakespeare Schools Festival
- Liverpool Cathedral
- Asian Women of Achievement
- The Loomba Foundation
- Victim Support
- Genesis Appeal
- Asian University for Women
- Help the Aged
- Opportunity Now Awards
- The Lily Center
- Community Foundation for Merseyside
- Noah’s Ark
- The British Institute of Human Rights
- The Howard League for Penal Reform
- Greater London Fund for the Blind
- Rights and Humanity
Awards and Achievements
- 2006: Conferred the Honorary Title of Emeritus Chancellor
- 2011: Appointed Chancellor of the Asian University of Women
- 2013: Conferred the title Commander of the Order for the British Empire
- 1999: Honorary Doctorate from the Open University
- 2009: Honorary Doctorate from the Liverpool Hope University