Baroness Oona King

Baroness Oona King

Baroness Oona King, House of Lords peer and former Head of Diversity at Channel 4, will be awarded Doctor of the University in recognition of public service, particularly in relation to diversity (Wednesday, 10th July 2013).

Baroness King is a member of the House of Lords (appointed Baroness of Bow in January 2011), a Diversity Executive at Channel 4, and the second black woman elected to Parliament.

Before becoming a peer, she was Head of Diversity at Channel 4 and, from 2007 to 2009, was Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister on Equalities at 10 Downing Street. She is also a broadcaster, writer and political campaigner and was elected MP for Bethnal Green and Bow from 1997 to 2005 and became Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for eCommerce, and then PPS to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

Baroness King founded the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Genocide Prevention, in the House of Commons, and received a commendation from the UN Security Council’s expert panel for her group’s work on peacekeeping. Other roles have included Vice-Chair of the British Council (1998–2002), Chair of the All-Party Group on Business Services (1998–2001), Vice-Chair of London Labour MPs (1997–2005), and Treasurer of Friends of Islam (2001–05).

During her time in Parliament, she changed the law in five areas, including housing policy and equalities policy. In her first year in the House of Lords she was nominated for ‘Campaigning Peer of the Year’.

In 2010 she ran, unsuccessfully, for the Labour candidacy of the London mayoral election, against Ken Livingstone.

Before becoming an MP at the age of 29, she was a Trade Union organiser representing low-paid workers, and spent five years as a researcher at the European Parliament. She gained a first-class degree in Politics from the University of York in 1990, a period of study that included a scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley in 1988–89. Her current work for Channel 4 focuses on diversity in the media, and she previously chaired the steering committee of the Cultural Diversity Network (an organisation representing all Britain’s major broadcasters including the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Sky). Baroness King also chaired the Broadcasting and Creative Industries Disability Network and currently sits on the House of Lords post-legislative Select Committee on the Olympic Legacy.

Outside politics, she has worked as a television presenter for Channel 4, the BBC, Sky, Channel 5 and ITV. Her political diary of her time in the House of Commons, House Music, was published by Bloomsbury in 2007 and nominated for ‘Political Book of the Year’ in the Channel 4 political awards. Recently, she submitted one day of her diary, 12 May 2013, to the Mass Observation Archive, held at Sussex.

By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Monday, 1 July 2013