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Indian-origin barrister Shami Chakrabarti in UK shadow cabinet

world Updated: Oct 08, 2016 01:15 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
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Chakrabarti is the only Indian-origin member in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.(HT File photo)

Expanding the shadow cabinet, newly re-elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Friday appointed prominent human rights barrister Shami Chakrabarti to the role of shadow attorney-general, taking the number of non-white MPs in his cabinet to a high of five.

The expansion was supposed to be an attempt to reunite the party after the recent bruising leadership contest, but none of Corbyn’s critics who left his cabinet in recent weeks found a place in the new team.

Chakrabarti is the only Indian-origin member in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, but Barry Gardiner, shadow energy minister and shadow secretary of state for international trade, is known for his proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the days the latter was Gujarat chief minister.

Accepting the shadow cabinet role, Chakrabarti said it was “an enormous privilege”

“I hope to follow in a great tradition of law officers on both sides of the aisle who have defended rights, freedoms and the rule of law,” she said.

Many MPs were said to be dismayed that Rosie Winterton, the opposition chief whip, was sacked from her post, to be replaced by former prime minister Gordon Brown’s aide, Nick Brown.

Corbyn’s long-time aide, Diane Abbott, was made the shadow home secretary.

Chakrabarti, 47, is the former director of campaign group Liberty.

She was elevated to the House of Lords just a month after she concluded a report into alleged anti-semitism in the Labour party. Her peerage was criticised by MPs and others who questioned her independence.

However, Chakrabarti, who studied law at the London School of Economics, insisted there was “nothing remotely transactional” about her inquiry report that absolved the party of anti-semitism.

Her rise in politics has been described as rapid.

A former lawyer for the Home Office, Chakrabarti was a panel member of the Leveson inquiry into phone hacking and carried the London Olympics flag in the 2012 opening ceremony.