Sarah Ludford was elected to the European Parliament as MEP for London in 1999, prior to which she was a councillor in Islington for 8 years. An LSE graduate in international history, she also has a master's degree in European studies and is qualified as a barrister.
Her career, which started in Whitehall, has included substantial stints in Brussels working for the European Commission, in the City (European adviser at Lloyd's of London and vice-president, Corporate External Affairs at American Express Europe) and as a European consultant.
She has been a member of the House of Lords since 1997, although while an MEP cannot be an active member.
Sarah is the Liberal Democrat European spokeswoman on justice & human rights and a leading member of the European Parliament's civil liberties, justice & home affairs committee and human rights sub-committee. She is a specialist in European measures to combat crime, uphold civil liberties, control borders, offer asylum and manage migration and a strong advocate for EU leadership on human rights at home and abroad.
Sarah is at the forefront of efforts to tackle organised crime and terrorism through European cross-border law enforcement and generally supports the European Arrest Warrant, which permitted the fast-track extradition of one of the failed 2005 London bombers. She also however strongly promotes the strengthening of rights of citizens arrested abroad. She instigated and vice-chaired the 2007 European Parliament inquiry into EU governments' complicity in extraordinary rendition which led the way in investigating the CIA's alleged torture flights and demanded public enquiries in every member state that collaborated with the undercover operations.
While supporting appropriate international data-sharing to tackle major crime, she insists on effective data protection and authored a report calling for safeguards against profiling. She seeks to prevent unnecessary infringements of privacy, as in the use of 'naked' body scanners at EU airports. Sarah is very active on equality issues including in the cross-party European Parliament 'intergroups' on anti-racism and gay & lesbian rights. In London she is vice-chair of UK law reform and human rights organisation Justice, on the council of prominent civil liberties NGO Liberty, and a patron of Fair Trials International.
Sarah campaigns hard for a cleaner environment in London that meets the European Union's strict standards on air and water quality. She helped successfully oppose the Heathrow 3rd runway and also opposes any increase in flights at London City airport which would create more air and noise pollution, undermine the fight against climate change and damage Londoners' quality of life. The petition she presented to the European Parliament about the scandalous discharge of raw sewage into the Thames has resulted in the planned Thames 'super-sewer' and the European Commission taking the UK to court for breach of waste water laws.
Sarah is vice chair of the European Parliament delegation for relations with the United States and a member of the delegation to the Western Balkans. She takes a strong interest in EU-Turkey relations including Kurdish issues, in the search for a settlement in Cyprus, and in Middle East developments. Sarah is a vice-president of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel.