William Goodhart, Baron Goodhart

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The Lord Goodhart
Lord Goodhart 2014.png
Born William Howard Goodhart
(1933-01-18)18 January 1933
Died 10 January 2017(2017-01-10) (aged 83)

William Howard Goodhart, Baron Goodhart, QC (18 January 1933 – 10 January 2017)[1][2] was a British Liberal Democrat politician, a leading human rights lawyer, and a member of the House of Lords.[3]

Background and early life

William Goodhart was the son of Arthur Lehman Goodhart and the brother of Charles Goodhart and Sir Philip Goodhart.[4]

He was educated at Eton College, undertook National Service from 1951-1953, and graduated with a law degree from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1956 before winning a Harkness Fellowship to study law at Harvard University.[5]

He was admitted to the bar in 1960 and made a Queen's Counsel in 1979.[6]


A member of the Social Democratic Party, he contested the safe Conservative seat of Kensington in both the 1983 and 1987 general elections.

After the SDP merged with the Liberals, he subsequently fought the Kensington by-election of 1988 under the new Social and Liberal Democrats banner,[7] finishing a weak third.[8]

In the 1992 general election he contested the winnable seat of Oxford West and Abingdon now as a Liberal Democrats candidate.[9] Goodhart cut the Conservative majority by over 1,000 votes down to 3,500 but still finished second.[9]


He was knighted 14 February 1989[6][10] and was created a life peer as Baron Goodhart, of Youlbury in the County of Oxfordshire, on 23 October 1997.[11] In the House of Lords, he served as a spokesman for the Liberal Democrats in several capacities, usually relating to legal matters, including as the Liberal Democrats' Shadow Lord Chancellor.[6] Before the House of Lords Act 1999, he campaigned to reform the Upper House, and later in his career expressed frustration at its undemocratic nature.[12]

He retired from the House of Lords on 15 May 2015.[13]

Humanism and ICJ memberships

A devoted humanist, Goodhart was a longtime member of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, as well as the British Humanist Association (BHA).[14] He was among a number of parliamentarians who in 2010 called for substantive reforms of public services in Britain following a BHA report into religious influence in public services.[15] From 2007 to 2009, Goodhart was the Chairman of JUSTICE,[6] the UK section of the International Commission of Jurists, as well as serving as a Commissioner of the ICJ since 1993. He was elected as Vice-President of the ICJ in 2002. He was also an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.[3]

Private life

He had three children with his wife, Celia (née McClare) Goodhart:[16] Annabel Frances Goodhart (born 1967; married to James Dallas; three daughters), Laura Christabel Goodhart (born 1970; married to William Watts; three sons), and Benjamin Herbert Goodhart (born 1972; partner of Wendy Young; one son).[17]


  1. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/07/lord-goodhart-obituary
  2. ^ Tributes paid to Willie Goodhart
  3. ^ a b "Baron Goodhart". National Secular Society. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Charles Goodhart (1997). "Economics and the Law: Too Much One-Way Traffic?". Modern Law Review. 60. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "William Goodhart Profile". London: Guardian. 22 February 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Trading places". The Times. 2007-01-30. p. 7. 
  7. ^ "Local lad. (Kensington by-election)". The Economist. 1988-07-09. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  8. ^ "By-election results: 1987-92" (PDF). House of Commons Information Office. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  9. ^ a b "Oxford West and Abingdon". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  10. ^ "No. 51720". The London Gazette. 2 May 1989. p. 5227. 
  11. ^ "No. 54932". The London Gazette. 28 October 1997. p. 12093. 
  12. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/07/lord-goodhart-obituary
  13. ^ http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/lords/retired-lords/ Retired members of the House of Lords
  14. ^ "Humanists in Parliament". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "Lords to debate reports calling for secular approach to public service". parliament.uk. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  16. ^ Catalogue of the papers of Arthur Lehman Goodhart (1891-1978) by Ruth Burchnall University of Oxford, Bodleian Library - 1993 |With (Sir) William H. Goodhart, with a few letters from his wife Celia McClare Goodhart, and including letters to Cecily Goodhart, 1956-c.1970, with (fols. 50-6) letters to (Sir) William H. Goodhart from various correspondents, 1947-71
  17. ^ The Guardian: "A vote for Mum and Dad - When Benjie Goodhart was a child, his parents fought – and lost – seven elections. Despite the embarrassment, boredom and tears, he's just so proud of them" by Benjie Goodhart 16 April 2010
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