University honours excellence


The former Director General of MI5, Britain's top prosecutor and an acclaimed historian have been honoured by the University of Leeds.

The achievements of a leading philosopher and one of Britain’s most-acclaimed musical conductors will also be recognised at special ceremonies this year. Honorary doctorates will be conferred upon Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, director general of MI5 between 2002 and 2007; Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions; Sir Ian Kershaw, the academic and historian; and Baroness Onora O’Neill, the philosopher and cross-bench member of the House of Lords. The ceremonies will take place on 12 July at the University of Leeds. All of the recipients excel within their specialist fields and are distinguished by outstanding achievements. Sir Ian Kershaw

Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th Century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the Third Reich. Sir Ian’s critically acclaimed biography of Hitler, along with his research on how ordinary people viewed him, has marked him out as a leading expert in his field. Changing his focus from medieval to German history in 1974, Sir Ian was knighted in 2002 for services to the discipline, as well as being made a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society, the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

Sir Ian will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

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Baroness (Eliza) Manningham-Buller Following a spell as an English teacher, Baroness Manningham-Buller joined MI5 in 1974, during the height of the Cold War. An expert on counter-terrorism, she was heavily involved in the Lockerbie investigation and was the director of the agency’s Irish counter-terrorism branch before becoming deputy director general in 1997 and head of the service in 2002. Under her stewardship MI5 has endured some of the most high-profile years of its history and dramatically changed its accessibility to the public. Baroness Manningham-Buller will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

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Baroness (Onora) O’Neill A professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, as well as former President of the British Academy and chair of the Nuffield Foundation, Baroness O'Neill has written widely on political philosophy and ethics, Kant, international justice, and bioethics. Among many public roles she is a cross-bench member of the House of Lords, has been a member of the Animal Procedures Committee (1990 to 1994), member and acting chair of the Human Genetics Advisory Committee (1996 to 1999), member of the select committee on BBC Charter Review and gave the BBC Reith Lectures in 2002 to critical acclaim. Baroness O’Neill will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

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Keir Starmer QC During his 20-year career, Keir has earned a reputation as one of the country's most gifted lawyers, and an expert in the field of human rights. Appointed Queen's Counsel in 2002, he was named Human Rights Lawyer of the Year in 2001 and QC of the Year in Human Rights and Public Law in 2007. He is the author of several leading legal textbooks and is a Visiting Fellow at Essex University. From 2003-2008, he was the Human Rights Advisor to the Policing Board in Northern Ireland, publishing several reports. He was Joint Head of Doughty Street Chambers before taking up the role of Director of Public Prosecutions in November 2008. As DPP, Keir is responsible for prosecutions, legal issues and criminal justice policy. Keir is also an alumnus of the University of Leeds’ School of Law and gave the keynote address at the formal opening of the school’s new home, the Liberty Building, in October 2011. Starmer will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

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Further information

Please contact the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 4031 or The University of Leeds is the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse according to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. It is also one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015. Since its foundation, the University of Leeds has conferred honorary awards on a host of individuals from the worlds of science, art, academia, industry, politics, medicine, entertainment - and many other fields. Among those honoured at the University's first honorary degree ceremony in 1904 were poet laureate Alfred Austin and composer Sir Edward Elgar. A full year-by-year list of honorary graduates can be found here:

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Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email