Originally published at The Spectator
Barbara Judge is an extraordinary human being, particularly for those of us who struggle to iron a shirt. Apart from her flawless grooming — in a power suit with a starched ruff, she resembles a cross between Marie Antoinette and Jessica Tandy — she has more titles than most monarchs. Lady Judge, a British-American dual citizen married to philanthropist Sir Paul Judge, sits on boards on both sides of the Atlantic, chairs the School of Oriental and African Studies, and is a trustee of the Royal Academy.
Her past is no less impressive. In 1980, the then Barbara Thomas became the youngest-ever head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. By 2007, she was reported to hold no fewer than 30 directorships. And for the past five years, she has chaired the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the state-owned body vested with dismantling our ageing nuclear plants and, since 2006, providing expertise on building new ones. Sitting in the bland offices of a Mayfair private equity firm (she’s not a director, surprisingly, just a friend of the owner) the nuclear chief is hotly vocal — even slightly offended — at the state of the UK nuclear industry. When she came over here in 1993, she points out, ‘more than 20 per cent of our energy was delivered by nuclear power. But if we keep decommissioning, then by 2020 just 2 per cent of our power will be delivered by nuclear. And no one’s told me that we will need 18 per cent less power by then.’