Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2019

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Dame Bobbie Cheema-Grubb

Justice Cheema-Grubb welcomes a more diverse judiciary


BOBBIE CHEEMA-GRUBB, styled The Hon Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb after becoming the first Asian woman to be appointed as a high court judge in 2015, just might have to set her sights a lot higher and look to the stars, if she truly wants to fulfil her childhood ambition.

Strange as that may sound for an individual who has risen to the very top of the legal pro­fession and made history in the process, grow­ing up in Leeds, Cheema-Grubb actually dreamed of one day becoming an astronaut.

In an exclusive interview to the GG2 Power List, she affirms, “Remembering the dreams of your childhood is important. They are a blue­print of what makes you truly happy. Space travel reflected my deepest longings – a sense of wonder and curiosity, the idea of adventure, of striving to achieve a challenging goal, of self-respect and respect for the world in which we live. Even today, if NASA was to invite me to join a space mission, I would be off like a shot. But working as a barrister and a judge has fulfilled all these longings too.”

Born in Derby in 1966, Cheema-Grubb attended City of Leeds School before going on to study law at King’s College London. She fell in love with the subject while doing a work placement at a law centre in a deprived part of Leeds.

“What I saw at the Harehills and Chapel­town Law Centre were dedicated lawyers who changed lives. It made an immeasurable im­pression on me. The work was not glamourous or well-paid, but it tilted society’s framework, law, back towards the vulnerable.

“Bryan Stevenson, the radical American lawyer who represents poor black people on death row, says that the opposite of poverty isn’t wealth, it is justice. See­ing the problems that the Law Cen­tre’s clients

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