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University of Reading awards honorary degrees to leading figures in law and atmospheric science – University of Reading

Release Date : 07 July 2009

Two leading figures from the worlds of human rights law and atmospheric science were awarded honorary degrees from the University of Reading during the summer graduation ceremonies.

Saul Lehrfreund MBE was presented for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by Sandy Ghandhi, Professor of Law at the University of Reading.

Saul graduated from the School of Law at the University of Reading in 1990 and has since acquired an international reputation in the field of international human rights law. He is a founding member and Executive Director of the Death Penalty Project, which provides legal assistance to those facing the death penalty around the world.

The Project has played a leading role in redressing a number of miscarriages of justice in relation to death-row detainees, particularly in the Caribbean and Africa. In Malawi the Project provided legal support to local lawyers, who with Mr Lehrfreund's help, succeeded in obtaining an order declaring the mandatory death penalty unconstitutional.

Professor Ghandhi said: "Since graduating from Reading, Saul Lehrfreund has forged a unique reputation in the field of international human rights law, and in particular the application of the 'death penalty'. In 2000, Saul received the MBE from Her Majesty the Queen for 'services to international human rights'.

"Saul has been the saviour of many men condemned to death in the Commonwealth Caribbean in particular. It is appropriate that the University of Reading now recognises his contribution to human rights by the conferment of an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws of this University."

Dr Susan Soloman was presented for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science by Professor Keith Shine from the University's Department of Meteorology.

Dr Solomon, of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, is one of the foremost atmospheric scientists in the world. She took on one of the most prominent roles in global climate science, when she was appointed co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report. This was published in 2007 to great scientific and public acclaim.

Dr Solomon came to particular prominence in the mid-1980s following the discovery of the dramatic Antarctic Ozone Hole. She was a leading member of a team that hypothesized that the unusually cold conditions high above the Antarctic, led to previously unrecognised chemical reactions. This caused chlorine, present in the atmosphere due to human activity, to be released and attack ozone. She subsequently led two expeditions to the Antarctic to establish beyond reasonable doubt that these chemical processes were responsible for the Ozone Hole.

Professor Shine said: "Susan Solomon has played a major role in understanding ozone depletion and climate change over the past 25 years. This has brought her into

frequent contact with researchers in the University's internationally-renowned Department of Meteorology, particularly via her involvement in United Nations assessments of these subjects."


For all University of Reading media enquiries please contact James Barr, Press Officer tel 0118 378 7115 or email

Notes to Editors:

Mr Lehrfreund is also a founder member of the UK Foreign Secretary's 'Death Penalty Panel', as well as of the pro bono lawyers' panel of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. In 1995, Mr Lehrfreund won an individual award for outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights from the International Bar Association and four years later shared the 'Times/Justice' Young Lawyer of the Year prize with Parvais Jabbar. He has since received an MBE for services to international human rights.

Since graduating, Mr Lehrfreund has maintained close links with the School of Law and returns to Reading, whenever possible, to deliver a seminar on the Death Penalty to the International Human Rights Law class. In 2007, Mr Lehrfreund delivered the annual Paul Jackson lecture to widespread acclaim; he has also, on a number of occasions, taken International Human Rights Law students from Reading on summer placements on the 'Death Penalty Project' and is a serving member of the School 'Pro Bono' Steering Committee.

Dr Soloman's work played a key role in the decision that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

should be phased out, and then effectively outlawed; we are now witnessing the first signs of recovery of the ozone layer. Dr Solomon has been internationally recognised for her work, winning the prestigious 2004 Blue Planet Prize and a Presidential Award for outstanding contributions to science. Indeed, an Antarctic glacier has been named after Dr Solomon in recognition of her contribution to polar science.

Through her roles in the international assessments of ozone depletion and climate change, Dr Solomon has worked closely with many atmospheric scientists at the University of Reading, which is home to one of the world's leading atmospheric science departments.


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