Joel Joffe

Joel Goodman Joffe, Baron Joffe CBE (born 12 May 1932) is a Labour peer in the House of Lords.

Born in South Africa, he was educated at the University of Witwatersrand (BCom, LLB 1955), and worked as a human rights lawyer 1958-65, including at the infamous 1963-4 Rivonia Trial, representing Nelson Mandela. Later he moved to the United Kingdom, and worked in the financial services industry, setting up Hambro Life Assurance with Sir Mark Weinberg as well as in the voluntary sector. He was associated with Oxfam in various roles between 1982 and 2001, including being its Chair 1995-2001.

In 2006 he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Laws) from the University of Bath.

He was awarded the CBE in the 1999 New Year Honours,[1] and made a Life peer on 16 February 2000, being raised to the peerage as Baron Joffe, of Liddington in the County of Wiltshire.[2] In February 2003 he proposed as a Private Member's Bill the "Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill",[3] which would legalise physician-assisted dying.[4] After deliberation by a Lords committee, the bill was put forward again in November 2005.

On 12 May 2006; the Bill was debated once again in the House of Lords and an amendment to delay its introduction by six months was carried by a margin of 148-100.

He appeared on the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs on 28 October 2007.[5]


  • Joel Joffe, The Rivonia Story, Mayibuye Books, Cape Town, 1995
  • Joel Joffe, The State Vs. Nelson Mandela: The Trial That Changed South Africa, Oneworld Publications, 2007


External links

  • House of Lords biography
  • Announcement of his introduction at the House of Lords House of Lords minutes of proceedings, 22 February 2000
  • Mandela trial papers at AIM25 - includes some biographical information about Joel Joffe
  • Lord Joffe on TheyWorkForYou - including his speeches in Parliament

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