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Lord Wedderburn of Charlton, QC, FBA

Labour life peer and Patron of Humanists UK

Born in 1927, Kenneth William (Bill) Wedderburn was educated at Aske’s Grammar School, Whitgift School, and Queen’s College, Cambridge, where he graduated in law.

After serving in the RAF for two years, he began a long and distinguished career in labour law and academia, working at the University of Cambridge and then the London School of Economics as the Cassell Professor of Commercial Law. He was created a life peer with the title Baron Wedderburn of Charlton, of Highgate in the County of Greater London, in 1977.

His contribution, speaking “as a humanist”, to a debate in the House of Lords in April 2007 on “the position in British society of those who profess no religion” (see was much appreciated by humanists. He defended the human rights of non-believers, “who suffer a number of disadvantages in a religious environment”, citing Radio 4’s “Thought for the Day”, the law on charitable status, the absence of humanist chaplains in hospitals and prisons, the questionable 2001 census figures on religious belief, and the proliferation of discriminatory Church schools. He quoted from the objects of one Church school to instruct pupils that “those who love Jesus the Lord will enjoy his presence forever. But those who do not will face God’s judgment”, describing this as “hardly an inclusive philosophy to put to children.” He ended by suggesting “that there are practical matters for ordinary people here which demand some inquiry or consultation from the Government with Humanists UK.”

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