Alyson Kilpatrick studied law at Queens University Belfast, the Inns of Court School of Law London and the College of Europe Bruges. She was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1992.
In 2008, she returned to the Bar of Northern Ireland. Alyson has extensive experience of litigation in the higher courts in a range of public law and human rights cases with a particular emphasis on cases concerning the protection of individuals’ rights. For example, she has represented litigants in cases concerning gerrymandering and malfeasance in public office; the rights of Irish Travellers to establish serviced sites; the closure of residential care homes; the right of a transgender child to medical treatment; misdiagnosis of psychiatric injury; and the application of the Human Rights Act to private contracts.
Between 2005 and 2007, she was junior counsel to the Robert Hamill Inquiry (examining the death of a young man in Portadown). Throughout her practice, Alyson has published extensively including legal textbooks, law reports’ series and encyclopedia of law and practice. For example, she was a contributing author to The Human Rights Act 1998: A Practitioner’s Guide and the author of Discrimination Law and Housing Law in Northern Ireland. Alyson was a Commissioner on the Independent Commission on the Future of Housing in Northern Ireland, which reported to government in 2008.
Until November 2017, she was Chair of the Board of the Simon Community Northern Ireland. She is member of the board of the One Safe Place Family Justice Centre and Vice Chair of the Board of the Northern Ireland Co-Ownership Housing Association.
Until May 2021, she was a member of board of CRJI, an accredited community restorative justice scheme.
In 2009, Alyson was a member of the Irish Government’s delegation to Timor Leste on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 where she spoke on policing oversight and provided recommendations for a revised code of conduct for UN military personnel overseas.
Between 2009 and September 2017, Alyson was the Independent Human Rights Legal Advisor to the Northern Ireland Policing Board. During that time, she published annual human rights reports and thematic review reports on, for example: domestic violence; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights; race hate crime; stop and search; child sexual exploitation and; policing with children and young people.
In 2016, she was appointed special legal advisor to the UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and continued until September 2021.
In 2018, Alyson conducted, on behalf of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, an independent human rights inspection of An Garda Síochána. She reported in September 2018.
Alyson was appointed to carry out an independent review of the ECHR compliance of a number of NI ‘legacy’ investigations, known as Operation Kenova. Her final report was published on 31 August 2021.
On 1 September 2021, Alyson was appointed Chief Commissioner to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
Photo credit: The Bar of Northern Ireland