Born in Denton, the third of eight children, Catherine’s roots in Newcastle are deep. She grew up in the West End of the city, attending Sacred Heart Comprehensive School in Fenham. Her family also goes back generations in this area, and currently live throughout Newcastle: in Newburn, Denton, Lemington, Gosforth and Woolsington.
Whilst studying Politics and History at Edinburgh University, Catherine was active in various student organisations – campaigning on international development, human rights and social justice issues. It was from that platform that Catherine was elected to the Edinburgh University Students Association, and appointed as Finance Officer. Catherine campaigned for Fairtrade goods to be sold in all University outlets, something which was achieved by the time she graduated in the year 2000. After leaving Edinburgh, Catherine went on to study Law at Northumbria University.
Before first being elected as the Labour Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne North in May 2010, Catherine worked as an employment solicitor with a large Newcastle law firm.
Catherine was briefly a member of the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, before she was appointed to the position of Shadow Solicitor General by Ed Miliband as part of his first frontbench team in October 2010.
In October 2011, Catherine was appointed Shadow Minister for Children and Young Families. She then joined the Shadow Treasury team in May 2012, and held the roles of both Shadow Economic Secretary and Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury – more information about this work can be read here.
Catherine was successfully re-elected as the Labour MP for Newcastle North in May 2015, with an increased majority of 10,153.
She was subsequently appointed to Jeremy Corbyn’s first Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Attorney General, in September 2015, before leaving this role in January 2016. You can read more about her work as Shadow Attorney General here.
In February 2016, Catherine joined the Education Select Committee – a cross-party committee of MPs, which monitors the policy, administration and spending of the Department for Education and its associated arms-length bodies, including Ofsted. She is also a member of the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy (a joint committee between the Education and Business, Innovation & Skills Select Committees).
In addition, Catherine is a member of the House of Commons Petitions Committee, recently established to consider e-petitions submitted on the petition.parliament.uk website and paper petitions presented to the House of Commons, and she was elected Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party’s backbench group on International Trade in November 2016.
Catherine is also an active member of a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs). She is Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of CAFOD, Co-Chair of the APPGs on Anti-Corruption, on Regional Airports, and on Apprenticeships; a Vice-Chair of the APPGs on Children Who Need Palliative Care and on the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign; as well as being a member of the APPGs on Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes and HIV/AIDS. She also introduced an Apprenticeships Bill into the House of Commons shortly after first being elected – read more here.
Catherine lives in the constituency with her husband, Rhys, and their three young children.