William Goodhart, Baron Goodhart

William Goodhart, Baron Goodhart

William Howard Goodhart, Baron Goodhart QC (born 18 January 1933) is a British Liberal Democrat politician, a leading human rights lawyer and a former member of the House of Lords.[1] He is the son of Arthur Lehman Goodhart and the brother of Charles Goodhart.[2]


  • Education 1
  • Law 2
  • Politics 3
  • Peerage 4
  • Family 5
  • Memberships 6
  • References 7


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.[3]


He was admitted to the bar in 1960 and made a Queen's Counsel in 1979.[4]


Originally a member of the Social Democrats, he contested the safe Conservative constituency of Kensington in both the 1983 and 1987 general elections.

When the SDP merged with the Liberals, he was one of the members who participated in the merger, and he subsequently fought the Kensington by-election of 1988 under the new Social and Liberal Democrats banner,[5] finishing a weak third.[6]

In the 1992 general election he contested the winnable seat of Oxford West and Abingdon for the again renamed Liberal Democrats.[7] Goodhart cut the Conservative majority by over 1,000 votes down to 3,500 but still finished second.[7]


He was knighted 14 February 1989[4][8] and was created a life peer as Baron Goodhart, of Youlbury in the County of Oxfordshire on 23 October 1997.[9] In the House of Lords, he served as a spokesman for the Liberal Democrats in various capacities, usually relating to legal matters, including as the Liberal Democrats' Shadow Lord Chancellor.[4] He retired from the House of Lords on 15 May 2015.[10]


William Goodhart is the son of Arthur Lehman Goodhart and the brother of Charles Goodhart.[2] He has three children with his wife, Celia (nee McClare) Goodhart:[11] Laura Goodhart, Frances Goodhart, and Benjie Goodhart.[12]

One is Annabel Frances Goodhart, who was born in 1967 and is married to James Dallas, with whom she has three daughters: Josephine, Beatrice and Katharine.

Another is Laura Christabel Goodhart, who was born in 1970 and is married to William Watts, with whom she has three sons: Matthew, Kenneth and Fletcher.

The third is Benjamin Herbert Goodhart, who was born in 1972 and has a son, Alfred, with his partner Wendy Young.


He was the Chairman of JUSTICE,[4] the UK section of the International Commission of Jurists, from 2007 to 2009 as well as serving as a Commissioner of the ICJ since 1993. He was elected as Vice-President of the ICJ in 2002. He is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Baron Goodhart". National Secular Society. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Charles Goodhart (1997). "Economics and the Law: Too Much One-Way Traffic?". Modern Law Review 60. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  3. ^ "William Goodhart Profile". London: Guardian. 22 February 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Trading places".  
  5. ^ "Local lad. (Kensington by-election)".  
  6. ^ "By-election results: 1987-92" (PDF).  
  7. ^ a b "Oxford West and Abingdon". London:  
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 51720. p. 5227. 2 May 1989.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 54932. p. 12093. 28 October 1997.
  10. ^ http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/lords/retired-lords/ Retired members of the House of Lords
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ 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