Catherine Ashton

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Baroness Ashton of Upholland is the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union.

She is a former Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, appointed on 9 September 2004. The DCA was at that time headed by Lord Falconer and Harriet Harman.


Catherine Ashton graduated from the University of London in 1977. From 1983-89 she was a Director of Business in the Community (BITC), where she helped to establish the Employers Forum in Disability and Opportunity 2000. She was seconded from the London regeneration organization, London First, to the Home Office to contribute to its work on the voluntary sector. From 1998-2001, she was chairman of East and North Hertfordshire Health Authority, and later the new Hertfordshire Health Authority.

She became Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for School Standards at the DfES in 2001. From July 2002, she was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Surestart, jointly at the Department for Education and Skills and Department for Work and Pensions. Ashton of Upholland was awarded a life peerage in 1999 and became a Privy Councillor in May 2006.

Responsibilities include: • Civil Law Policy - including tackling the 'compensation culture.' • Implementation of CR Act, concordat, Supreme Court, Judicial Appointments Commission • Family Justice • Judicial Diversity • European Union and International Policy • International Legal Trade • FOI (and data protection) • Administrative Justice, including the creation of the Tribunals Service • Crown Dependencies • Law Commission • Land Registry • Statutory Publications Office • Public Guardianship Office • Official Solicitors Office


  • Ashton is a board member of ERA.
  • Ashton is married to Peter Kellner a journalist, political commentator and Chairman of the YouGov opinion polling organisation. He is known for his appearances on TV, especially at election times. Formerly the political analyst of the BBC Newsnight current affairs programme, Kellner was engaged by YouGov's founders, Stephan Shakespeare and Nadhim Zahawi, in December 2001. When YouGov floated for £18million in April 2005, Kelner owned 6% of the company. Over the last 30 or so years he has been a journalist with the Sunday Times, The Independent, New Statesman and Evening Standard newspapers. He has also been a visiting fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, and the Institute for Policy Studies, London and has advised several large corporations.

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