Dame Justine Thornton DBE QC (born 16 September 1970),[1][2] styled The Hon Mrs Justice Thornton, is an English barrister and judge of the High Court of England and Wales.[3]

Dame Justine Thornton

Justine Thornton-Miliband.jpg
Thornton in September 2011
High Court Judge
Assumed office
28 February 2019
Personal details
Born (1970-09-25) 25 September 1970 (age 49)[1]
Manchester, Lancashire, UK
Spouse(s)Ed Miliband (m. 2011)
Alma materRobinson College, Cambridge

Thornton was appointed to the High Court of England and Wales in February 2019, assigned to the Queen's Bench Division.[4] As a lawyer, she specialised in environmental law.[5]

Early life and educationEdit

Thornton was born in Manchester to Labour-voting professionals,[1] Margaret and Stewart Thornton.[1][6] Her mother was born in Wales, and her orthopaedic surgeon grandfather, who was based in Ammanford, was a speaker on social affairs.[7] The family moved to Nottingham, where Justine was educated at West Bridgford School.[8]

As a pupil at West Bridgford Comprehensive School, she appeared to be heading for an acting career. Thornton was a member of the Central Junior Television Workshop at the age of 16.[9] In 1987 she starred as Erica, a rebellious schoolgirl, in "The Visit," the hour-long opening episode of Hardwicke House, an ITV sitcom that was later pulled from the schedules after only two episodes had been transmitted following a backlash over its content.[10] In 1988, she appeared as "Chrissie" in an episode of the long-running children's programme Dramarama titled "Snap Decision", which was aired in January 1989.[11]

Putting her acting career behind her, Thornton read Law at Robinson College, Cambridge, graduating in 1992. She became a barrister in 1994.[5]


Thornton practised in Environmental Law, latterly at 39 Essex Chambers, before she was appointed a judge.[12] The 2010 edition of Legal 500, the lawyers' directory described her as "first class".[13]

She was appointed an Advisor to the British Government on Biotechnology and the Environment under New Labour in 2000, a role she held until 2005 and was later on the Attorney-General's C Panel. She was later Chairwoman of SERA, Labour's Environment campaign. She has also acted on behalf of the Welsh Assembly, and in 2009 was shortlisted for Chambers and Partners "Environmental and Planning Junior of the Year".[5]

Thornton has worked on several law-related publications, as general editor of Sweet and Maxwell's Encyclopedia of Environmental Law, and a co-author of Sweet and Maxwell's textbook on Environmental law. She also co-authored the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 Law Society Legislation Guides.[5]

She became an Associate Governor of Brookfield Primary School in 2009.[14]

Thornton was appointed Queen's Counsel in January 2016,[15][16] and a Deputy High Court Judge in May 2017.[17]

In January 2019, it was announced Thornton would be appointed a judge of the High Court of England and Wales, with her appointment taking effect on 28 February 2019. She is assigned to the Queen's Bench Division.[18] She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2019 upon her appointment to the High Court.

Personal lifeEdit

Thornton is married to former Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband. They met in 2002 and live together at Dartmouth Park in North London.[19][20] The couple were engaged in March 2010,[21][22] and married at Langar Hall near Nottingham on 27 May 2011.[23] They have two sons, born 2009 and 2010.[24]

Thornton was a close friend of Frances Osborne, the wife of former Conservative Chancellor George Osborne, whom she met whilst studying for the Bar in London.[25]


  1. ^ a b c d McSmith, Andy. "Justine Thornton: Mrs Ed Miliband is no ordinary political spouse". The Independent. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  2. ^ Birth registered GRO Volume 10e, page 299, July–Sept 1970
  3. ^ "High Court Judge Appointment: Thornton QC". Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.
  4. ^ "High Court Judges 2018". Judicial Appointments Commission.
  5. ^ a b c d "Chambers Partners – Firms – Justine Thornton". Chambersandpartners.com. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  6. ^ "How setting up chairs led to romance for Doncaster North MP Ed and Justine". The Star. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  7. ^ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/news-opinion/general-election-2015-justine-miliband-9098248
  8. ^ "Ed Miliband to marry Justine Thornton at Langar Hall". Nottingham Post. 31 March 2011. Archived from the original on 3 April 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  9. ^ "Justine Thornton in banned ITV sitcom Hardwicke House (1986)".
  10. ^ Stratton, Allegra (26 September 2010). "Ed Miliband's partner Justine Thornton is shy but steely". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  11. ^ Snap Decision on IMDb
  12. ^ "Members Profile – 39 Essex Street". 39essex.co.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  13. ^ Sawer, Patrick (3 October 2010). "Justine Thornton Mrs. Milibands secret history". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  14. ^ "Brookfield Primary School – Who We Are". Camden. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  15. ^ Queen's Counsel appointments 2015 to 2016, Government of the United Kingdom
  16. ^ Williams, Zoe (22 January 2016). "New QCs Justine Thornton and Marina Wheeler: Is the legal profession still sexist?". The Guardian.
  17. ^ "High Court Judges 2018". Judicial Appointments Commission.
  18. ^ "High Court Judge Appointment: Thornton QC". Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.
  19. ^ Brady, Brian; Merrick, Jane (7 June 2009). "Battle for survival at No 10: Mandelson key to defeat of rebels". The Independent on Sunday. London. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  20. ^ "Ed Miliband 'will marry' but politics 'got in the way'". BBC News. 29 September 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  21. ^ "Doncaster MP Ed Miliband to wed". Doncaster Free Press. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  22. ^ Bingham, John (30 March 2011). "Ed Miliband to marry partner Justine Thornton – but no best man". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  23. ^ White, Michael (27 May 2011). "Ed Miliband wedding day – a very private affair". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 May 2011{{inconsistent citations}}
  24. ^ "Ed Miliband's partner Justine gives birth to second son". BBC News. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  25. ^ McSmith, Andy (13 March 2015). "Justine Thornton: Mrs Ed Miliband is no ordinary political spouse". The Independent.

External linksEdit