Development & Alumni Relations Office 

INTERIM ATTORNEY GENERAL IS QUEEN’S GRADUATE  Stormont Building (NI parliament) with inset of Brenda King, interim Attorney General for Northern Ireland

29 June 2020

Queen’s graduate Ms Brenda King, currently First Legislative Counsel in the Executive Office, has been appointed as Attorney General for Northern Ireland, until a replacement is found for John Larkin QC who leaves the post in the coming days.

With over 25 years’ experience of drafting legislation, both locally and in other jurisdictions Ms King is currently responsible for writing bills for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Attorney General’s justice responsibilities, which were devolved to Northern Ireland in April 2010, include:

  • Acting as chief legal adviser to the Northern Ireland Executive on issues that fall within the devolved powers of the Assembly
  • Protecting the public interest in matters of law
  • Serving as the Executive’s most senior representative in the courts
  • Overseeing the legal work of in-house advisers to the NI Executive
  • Participating in Assembly proceedings as permitted by its standing orders
  • Appointing the Director and Deputy Director of the Public Prosecutions (DPP)

Educated at Queen’s (LLB 1986), the University of South Carolina and Cambridge University, Ms King started her career in private practice as a solicitor before she moved into the civil service, becoming the Executive's chief legislative adviser in 2012. She previously spent time as a diplomat – including a period in Gibraltar – dealing principally with EU and public international law.

She is a former President of the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel (2017-19), which involved working with lawyers in 92 jurisdictions to improve the quality of legislation worldwide.

Advising the Assembly of the appointment, First Minister Arlene Foster said: “I am pleased to announce that Brenda King, First Legislative Counsel, will perform the functions of the Attorney General on an interim basis from next month.

"I would like to thank Ms King for agreeing to take on this important role and look forward to working with her in this capacity over the coming months.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill added: “I would like to express my appreciation to Ms King for taking on the discharging of the functions of the Attorney General on an interim basis.

"This will ensure that the duties of the post can continue to be properly carried out during the period of time required to appoint a successor to the role.

“I wish her well in the role; it is encouraging to see more women in senior positions in public life.”

Following the impending departure of John Larkin QC after his second term in the role, Ms King will carry out the duties of the post until a new Attorney General is appointed.

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast.

Photo credit (inset): Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel

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