Speakers Profile - The Rt Hon Helen Liddell

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Helen Liddell arrived in Australia to take up her position as British High Commissioner, on July 8 2005 to news of the London bombings. A former Cabinet Minister, she replaced Sir Alastair Goodlad.

Elected to the House of Commons in 1994 for the Scottish constituency previously held by the late Labour Leader John Smith, she began her ministerial career with Labour's election to Government in 1997.

She served as Economic Secretary to the Treasury from 1997 to 1998, Deputy Secretary of State for Scotland and Minister for Education from 1998-1999 and was briefly a Transport Minister and Minister of State to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in 1999, before becoming Minister of State for Energy and Competitiveness in Europe, a post she held until joining the Cabinet in 2001 when she became the first woman Secretary of State for Scotland. She left the Cabinet in 2003 and it was announced shortly afterwards that she would become British High Commissioner to Australia. She left Parliament in May 2005.

An economist by profession, on leaving Strathclyde University in 1971, she began work as Head of the Economic Department of the Scottish Trades Union Congress where she remained until 1976, leaving as Assistant Secretary to become the Economic Correspondent of BBC Scotland.

In 1977 she became General Secretary of the Labour Party in Scotland, a post she held until she left to complete her first novel in 1988, however shortly afterwards she accepted the post of Director, Personnel and Public Affairs of the Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd she was then seconded to the management of the PLC, Mirror Group Newspapers, where she dealt with investor relations in the period following the discovery of a major and high profile fraud.

In 1993 she became Chief Executive of Business Ventures, a start up company dealing with high tech business start ups in the SME sector, a post she retained until her unexpected election to Parliament in 1994.

Her novel "Elite" was published in 1990.

Appointed Privy Councillor in 1998, she is also an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Strathclyde.

Helen Lidell finished her term in Australia as British High Commissioner to Australia in September 2009.