Helen Mountfield QC has been elected as Principal of Mansfield College, and will succeed Baroness Helena Kennedy QC from 1 September 2018.
Helen is a founder member of Matrix Chambers, and has served as a mediator, recorder and deputy High Court judge. She is a prominent specialist in administrative, human rights and education law, and has appeared frequently in the Supreme Court. She was leading advocate for the 'People's Challenge' group in the litigation brought in the Supreme Court which successfully challenged the Prime Minister's power to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union without first obtaining statutory authority from Parliament.
Helen Mountfield QC said: 'I am delighted to take up an exciting new role which enables me to combine my interests in law and human rights with my life-long interest in access to education, and to retain my links to Matrix, of which I am so proud. I am impressed by the spirit of Mansfield College: founded to broaden access to Oxford in the nineteenth century, it is now visibly and successfully reinventing itself to meet the challenges of the twenty-first.
'I am excited by the friendly, supportive and inclusive atmosphere; the dedication of the Fellows to high-level teaching, research and pastoral relationships; and the evident enthusiasm of the students for their College and the opportunities it offers them for personal and intellectual growth.
'It is a great honour to take over from Helena Kennedy, who has brought such energy to the College, and to support the work of the Bonavero Human Rights Institute, in the beautiful new Hands Building in the College grounds. I am greatly looking forward to joining the College in September, to meeting its members past and present, and to contributing to its future.'
Baroness Helena Kennedy said: 'I am utterly thrilled that such a remarkable woman is coming to lead Mansfield in its next exciting period. Helen Mountfield is a brilliant lawyer, who has had a stellar career at the Bar. She will not only bring her humanity and leadership skills to the role, but she will sustain the important relationship of the College with a project that has been close to my own heart - the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights: just built in the College and led by Justice Kate O'Regan. Mansfield is a very special place and I have had a wonderful seven years with great colleagues and students. Where else in Oxbridge is there an intake of over 90% students from state schools? For me, it is time to return to full-time law, confident that Mansfield is in the best of hands.'
Helen attended Crown Woods Comprehensive School in South East London before obtaining a first class degree in Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford. Thereafter she studied for the Bar at City University and the Inns of Court School of Law, and was a Reid and Holker scholar of Gray's Inn. She was called to the Bar in 1991, and took silk in 2010. She continues to be a member of Matrix Chambers, and also sits as a deputy High Court Judge in the Administrative Court and as a civil and criminal recorder, and is a master of the bench at Gray's Inn.
Mansfield College is home to the new Bonavero Human Rights Institute, whose inaugural director is Professor Catherine O'Regan, a former Justice of the South African Constitutional Court.