Charlie Falconer, Baron Falconer of Thoroton

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Charles Leslie Falconer, Baron Falconer of Thoroton, PC (born November 19, 1951), is a British lawyer and Labour Party politician. In June 2003 he became the Lord Chancellor and the first Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (a position created originally to replace the position of Lord Chancellor).

Educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond, and Queens College (?), Cambridge, Lord Falconer became a flatmate of Tony Blair when they were both young barristers in London in the early 1970s. They had first met as pupils at rival schools in the 1960s. While Blair went into politics, Falconer concentrated on his legal career, becoming a Queen's Counsel in 1991.

In May 1997 Blair became Prime Minister and Falconer was made a life peer and joined the government as Solicitor General. In 1998 he became Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, taking over responsibility for the Millennium Dome after the resignation of Peter Mandelson. He was heavily criticised for the failure of the Dome to attract an audience, but resisted calls for his resignation.

He joined the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions as Minister for Housing, Planning and Regeneration after the 2001 election and moved on to the Home Office in 2002. At the Home Office he was responsible for criminal justice, sentencing and law reform, and annoyed some of his fellow lawyers by suggesting that their fees were too high.

In 2003 he joined the Cabinet as the first Constitutional Affairs Secretary in what many have come to regard as a rather hasty cabinet re-shuffle. This was confirmed by the government announcement that the office of Lord Chancellor was to be abolished without even informing the monarch. The following day it emerged that this announcement was incorrect, and that the Lord Chancellor was required by statutue to sit in the House of Lords. Many have also criticised the chosen name as a sign of the unwelcomed americanisation of the uncodified UK constitution. The post of Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs took over many of the responsibilites of the Lord Chancellor, the Welsh Secretary and the Scottish Secretary. Falconer remained Lord Chancellor while the process to abolish the office was started, but announced his intention not to use the Lord Chancellor's power to sit as a judge. He has also stopped wearing the traditional robe and wig of office. Many now suggest that his apparent failure regarding the Dome has been replicated by his apparent failure to correctly understand and interpret the national constitution. The replacement of Derry Irvine, Blair's mentor, with Charlie Falconer, one of his best friends, gave Blair's opponents a further opportunity to criticise the role of "Tony's cronies" in the government.

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