Yasmin Qureshi (born 5 July 1963) is a British Labour Party politician and a barrister practising criminal law. She headed the criminal legal section of the UN Mission in Kosovo and was later appointed Director of the department of Judicial Administration there. She was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bolton South East in the May 2010 general election. She became Shadow Minister for International Development in April 2020.
|Shadow Minister for International Development|
|Assumed office |
9 April 2020
|Preceded by||Preet Gill|
|Shadow Minister for Justice|
9 October 2016 – 9 April 2020
|Preceded by||Andy Slaughter|
|Succeeded by||Karl Turner (Legal Aid)|
|Member of Parliament|
for Bolton South East
|Assumed office |
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||Dr Brian Iddon|
|Born||5 July 1963|
Gujrat City, Punjab, Pakistan
|Alma mater||Polytechnic of the South Bank|
University College London
She attended what is now London South Bank University, and graduated with a BA (Hons) Law degree before studying for and sitting her examinations for the Bar at the Council of Legal Education. She gained a Master of Laws at University College London.
Qureshi began her legal career with the Crown Prosecution Service as an in-house barrister, prosecuting on behalf of the Crown in numerous criminal cases.
She headed the criminal legal section of the UN Mission in Kosovo, and was selected as co-ordinator of the Criminal Legal Unit from 2000 to 2001. This role involved analysing legal systems in Kosovo to identify their limitations, with a focus on issues including people trafficking, domestic violence etc. She was then appointed Director of the Department of Judicial Administration in Kosovo. This entailed working to ensure the proper administration and monitoring of courts, prosecutors and investigation of judges offices.
She then worked as a human rights advisor to the former London mayor Ken Livingstone from 2004 to 2008. Qureshi also chaired the Human Rights and Civil Liberties Working Group of the Association of Muslim Lawyers and was President of the Pakistan Club (UK).
At the age of 16, Qureshi joined the Labour Party and became active in local politics. She stood, unsuccessfully, for Labour in the London constituency of Brent East in 2005. She was elected at the 2010 general election in the safe Labour seat of Bolton South East.
She was elected in 2010 with 18,782 votes and 47.4% of the vote and has since achieved higher vote tallies and vote proportions in the following elections with an improved 25,676 votes and 60.7% vote share in 2017. In 2010, Qureshi, Rushanara Ali and Shabana Mahmood, elected at the same time, became Britain's first female Muslim MPs. Qureshi is also the first woman to be elected as the Member of Parliament for Bolton South East.
Qureshi has served on a number of Committees in her time in parliament. From her entry into parliament in 2010 until 2015 she was on the Justice Committee. From 2013 to 2015 she was part of the Home Affairs Committee. Following the 2015 election she was on the Foreign Affairs Committee. In early October 2016, Qureshi was appointed as a Shadow Minister for Justice by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
From 2014 to 2015 Qureshi was on the Committee scrutinising the High Speed Rail (HS2) project. She sought to scrutinise impacts and costing of the controversial project in light of concerns over its slow progress and high cost. She stated that "it is important that the Department for Transport and the Secretary of State address these concerns fully in order that people can have confidence in the HS2 project", and highlighted how the benefits of HS2 needed to be felt by those in the North as well as the South: “there needs to be clarity and transparency over value for money and the benefits to the rest of the country, not just London".
Prior to taking up her position as Shadow Justice Minister, Qureshi sat on a variety of Select Committees. This included:
|Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee||Commons||Jan 2016 – Oct 2016|
|Foreign Affairs Committee||Commons||Jul 2015 – Oct 2016|
|High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill||Commons||Apr 2014 – Jul 2015|
|Home Affairs Committee||Commons||Nov 2013 – Mar 2015|
|Privacy and Injunctions||Joint||Jul 2011 – Mar 2012|
|Political and Constitutional Reform Committee||Commons||Jul 2011 – Dec 2011|
|Justice Committee||Commons||Jul 2010 – Mar 2015|
All-party Parliamentary GroupsEdit
- Pakistan, which she chairs;
- Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which she chairs;
- Dalits, which she chairs;
- Dyslexia and Other Specific Learning Disabilities;
- Greater Manchester, where she serves as treasurer;
- Hajj and Umrah, which she chairs;
- Religion in the Media, which she chairs;
- Srebrenica, which she chairs;
- Taxis, where she serves as secretary.
Since 2011, Qureshi has been campaigning for justice for the parents and children of those affected by Primodos, a historic hormone pregnancy test used in the 1960s and 1970s which significant evidence indicates leads to birth defects in children. She has worked to bring about an inquiry into a purported cover-up of information on the drug which may have taken place in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2017 she stated in the House of Commons that a Report into Primodos had been "condemned by MPs across the House as being a whitewash and misleading", and called for a formal inquiry.
Qureshi has also campaigned against cuts to community pharmacies. Speaking in 2016 she stated that “cutting funding for community pharmacies threatens patient care and safety"  and that "pharmacies are vital local assets and these cuts are totally short-sighted"
In response to the Myanmar's Rohingya crisis Qureshi has called for the government to condemn the crisis and work more with the international community to seek a rapid end to it. She commented that "this is one of the worst outbreaks of violence in decades, yet the international community is effectively remaining silent as we watch another Srebrenica and Rwanda unfold before our eyes".
Qureshi campaigned extensively to have 'upskirting' criminalised as a specific sexual offence, arguing that such legislation was long overdue. In response to Conservative MP Christopher Chope's blocking the progress of a bill to outlaw upskirting, Qureshi spoke frequently in the House of Commons in criticism of this action, stating "delays in getting to this point were totally unnecessary and have caused needless suffering".
Labelling of meatEdit
In May 2014, Qureshi opposed mandatory labelling of meat coming from animals killed by halal and kosher methods. She drew attention to studies which indicated that halal methods of slaughtering may not be more painful than stunning, saying "a myth is being perpetuated that somehow kosher and halal methods, carried out as they should be, are more painful and cause more suffering to the animal, but that is incorrect".
Qureshi has also supported a number of other campaigns while in parliament. These include seeking to reduce the impacts of changes in State Pension Age, calls for citizens to be able to opt-out of unsolicited phone calls from companies, and questioning the pace of government cuts and the effect this is having on crime and local communities.
Court building salesEdit
Qureshi has been a stringent critic of the widespread closure of courts and sales of court buildings throughout her time as an MP. She argues that doing so without due process and in a rushed manner "piles yet more pressure on the remaining courts and risks hearings being further delayed and rescheduled", with the impact of "distressing victims and witnesses, many of whom are now forced to travel much greater distances".
Qureshi has been a consistent critic of the Conservatives running of the prison system. In the Huffington Post, she argued that the 14% rate of prison officers leaving after a year, the record rates of prisoner suicides and the increasing safety crisis as noted by inspections indicate that prison funding and staff numbers had been cut too rapidly.
Qureshi was strongly against the dropping of bombs in Syria; after travelling on a fact-finding mission with the Foreign Affairs Committee, she argued that while the bombs would certainly cause "many innocent civilian deaths", the evidence that the strikes would significantly weaken ISIS was unclear.
Awards and nominationsEdit
In January 2013 and 2015, Qureshi was nominated for the Politician of the Year award at the British Muslim Awards. In January 2014, she was awarded the Politician of the Year award at the British Muslim Awards.
In 2010, Qureshi was banned from driving for 6 months for driving without insurance and using a mobile phone, whilst already having 9 points.
In February 2014, during a parliamentary debate on the Palestine crisis, she said of the persecution of Jewish people in the Holocaust: "Their properties, homes, and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished", before going on to say that "It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza". In response, Karen Pollock of the Holocaust Educational Trust said: "We expect our politicians to speak responsibly and sensitively about the past and about events today. These lazy and deliberate distortions have no place in British politics". Qureshi apologised to any who were offended by her words, and stated that "the debate was about the plight of the Palestinian people, and in no way did I mean to equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust", adding that "I know the Holocaust was the most brutal act of genocide of the 20th century, and no one should seek to underestimate its impact".
In 2017, The Times stated that Qureshi accepted a £5,000 donation from Sufyan Ismail but failed to declare it; it was found that the donation was in fact declared on time and in keeping with parliamentary procedure, it was declared through Ismail's company name 'One Group' and can be found on public parliamentary donation records.
Qureshi is married to Nadeem Ashraf, who she employs as Constituency Caseworker and Administrative Officer.
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