Rob Linham

Hi, I’m Rob. Radinden is the all-purpose name I use online, as explained here.

To quote my Twitter bio, I’m a ‘civil servant, erstwhile quizzer, quondam lawyer, baseball nut, vile punster, proud Brightonian, nerd’.

My day job has a long title: Head of Council of Europe Human Rights Policy at the Ministry of Justice. In practice, these means that I spend quite a lot of my time in Strasbourg in France, where the Council of Europe is based, representing the United Kingdom in inter-governmental meetings dealing with various aspects of human rights. In particular, I am the United Kingdom member of the Council of Europe Steering Committee for Human Rights (or CDDH to its friends), which oversees the vast bulk of the work of the Council of Europe in this field.

By the way, to save any confusion, the Council of Europe is a totally different organisation from the European Union: the Council of Europe has 47 member States (compared to the EU’s 28) and works on a purely intergovernmental basis on democracy, human rights and the rule of law; perhaps its most famous creation is the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Court of Human Rights that oversees it. Of course, some confusion is inevitable: not only is the European Parliament building directly across the river from the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, but the EU also inconveniently has internal structures called the ‘Council of the European Union’ and the ‘European Council’: how helpful!

Although I studied law and still deal with a lot of legal issues, I’m not actually a lawyer by trade: I’m a policy professional. This also means that, although I advise and represent the government of the day, I’m not a politician: in fact, I’m obliged to be politically neutral, so you won’t find any personal political views anywhere on this website. As this is my personal website, it also goes without saying that nothing I write on here is in my official capacity (though I may link to things occasionally), and that there’s very little point taking up political or personal issues with me: that’s what your elected representatives are for. There’s a whole page of site policies over here, which I hope will avoid any confusion or wasted effort.

All those disclaimers aside, I spend my time away from work enjoying my home city of Brighton and Hove. Apart from a few years in exile in south London for work reasons, I’ve lived here my entire life, and I’m fiercely proud of everything about Brighton: its culture, its architecture, its food, its diversity, its tolerance and its whole way of life (except for the seagulls: I can’t stand seagulls). Even if the commute to London can be an expensive bore, I still can’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather live.

Most of my other interests are tediously conventional: music, books, wine, and messing about on the internet (as you can tell). Like a proper old-school civil servant, I enjoy watching cricket: although I’m often found down at Sussex CCC during County Championship games, my first choice is always Somerset CCC, a despairing burden inherited from my family roots. Having spend a fair bit of time travelling in the United States, I’m also a devoted baseball fan, although my team – the Chicago White Sox – have proved just as frustratingly underachieving apart from one glorious exception almost a decade ago.

Finally, in the hope that no-one will notice it buried at the bottom here, I’m also a recovering quizzer. For many years, I was a top-level question-writer and competition organiser, focussing particularly on ‘academic quizzing’ at the student level. I didn’t take part myself all that often, although I used to pop up on television from time to time: in particular, I have the curious distinction of having reached the final of the BBC’s University Challenge with two different teams: in 2001 as a student with St John’s College, Oxford, when we finished runners-up; and in 2008 with the Ministry of Justice as we won the last series of the ‘Professionals’ spin-off. I gave up any serious involvement with quizzing a couple of years ago, however, and still maintain a strict policy of avoiding all pub quizzes!