Anthony Lester was born in 1936 and brought up in north London. He was created a Life Peer in 1993. He was called to the Bar in 1964 and became a QC in 1975. He sat as a Recorder at the Crown Court and a Deputy High Court Judge before becoming a Liberal Democrat Peer.
Between 1974 and 1976, he was Special Adviser to Roy Jenkins, with special responsibility for developing policy on race relations, sex discrimination and human rights. He campaigned for thirty years to make the European Human Rights Convention directly enforceable in British courts and introduced two Private Members' Bills on the subject which became models for the Human Rights Act 1998. He introduced further Private Members' Bills seeking to strengthen Parliamentary scrutiny of the treaty-making powers of Government; to give the public direct rights of access to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (the Ombudsman); to give legal protection and recognition to unmarried couples (both same sex and opposite sex); to modernise anti-discrimination legislation in a single Equality Bill; and to give civil protection to the victims of forced marriages. His latest Bill gives rights to cohabiting couples. Between July 2007 and November 2008 he was an independent Advisor to the Justice Secretary on constitutional reform.
Anthony was a founder member of the Social Democratic Party, and is honorary President of the Liberal Democrat Lawyers Association. He has written many books and articles on human rights and constitutional law, and serves on the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights.
In 2007, he received the LIBERTY and JUSTICE Judges Award for lifetime achievement, and has received honorary degrees from the Open University, and the universities of Durham, Ulster, the South Bank, Stirling and University College London. He is Honorary President of INTERIGHTS (the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights), and of the Human Rights Lawyers Association, and former Co-Chair of the European Roma Rights Center. He has close connections with several British NGOs, including JUSTICE, and the British Institute of Human Rights.
Anthony is married to Katya (who is an Immigration Judge,) and they have a son - Gideon - who is Associate Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a daughter - Maya - who is a practising member of the English Bar.