Who? Kath Nicholson, 60, head of law at the London Borough of Lewisham.
Why is she in the news? Acted for the council in its successful challenge to health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to downgrade accident and emergency and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital.
Lewisham Hospital was ordered to cut services after administrators were brought into the neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT), which was losing £1m a week. The administrators argued that by reducing services at Lewisham, public funds could be redirected to the failing SLHT.
Mr Justice Silber, sitting at the High Court, ruled that the secretary of state had acted outside his powers when deciding to cut services at Lewisham because of the situation in a neighbouring health trust. His plans, Silber ruled, were unlawful and should be quashed because they breached provisions of the National Health Act 2006.
The Department of Health has been granted permission to appeal.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This was plainly the right decision. Lewisham and the SLHT are completely separate legal entities and it was wrong to cut services at one because of what was happening at the other. The secretary of state failed to consult, but just told us what he was going to do. We will strenuously resist any appeal.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I was attracted by the intellectual rigour of the law and the opportunity to work with fantastic people.’
Career high: ‘This case because it was so significant for the community, saving a much-needed facility for a deprived area.’
Career low: ‘Giving advice to the council on cutting £88m from our budget over three years.’