Liberty Human Rights Awards 2010

30 November 2010
Mairi Clare Rodgers, Media Director

Liberty’s new-look Human Rights Awards held last night were a massive success. Lawyers and journalists rubbed shoulders with campaigners and politicians at the Southbank event, compered by Rory Bremner - who had the crowd in stitches throughout the evening.

Guest presenters included the Home Secretary Theresa May, Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls, Diane Abbot MP, Lord Ken MacDonald, actors Simon Callow, Riz Ahmed and Honor Blackman, Film Director Gurinder Chadha, veteran journalist John Stapleton and President of UK Supreme Court, Lord Phillips. 

See the full list of winners and nominees  >> Human Rights Awards 2010

The ceremony produced some really inspiring moments.  David Davis, who was presented the ‘Independent Voice’ award by Diane Abbott and Honor Blackman, said ‘Liberty’s past nine years has been a struggle against the machismo of a government pretending to fight terror but really just taking our liberties away. He also warned that if the Government wanted to live up to its coalition agreement, "they've got to get rid of control orders".

Ian Cobain and Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian, who won Campaign of the year for their work on exposing UK complicity in torture, drew applause with their stirring acceptance speech.  They told the audience “It goes without saying but investigating allegations of torture is really difficult. Those who practise and suffer torture tend to remain silent. Those who are ultimately responsible just want you to go away. We’ve learned never to take no for an answer, and never to take ‘I don’t know’ for an answer”.  Sally Hyman, who won the ‘Close to Home’ category for her campaign in support of a secondary school pupil facing deportation to Iraq dedicated her award to ‘all children wrongly assessed and detained in hell holes’.

The posthumous Lifetime Achievement award went to Lord Bingham of Cornhill and was collected by the Bingham family.  Shami spoke of his vast contribution to the British judiciary, which provided so much inspiration and reassurance to so many working in human rights and Lady Bingham said that ‘Tom would have been very proud to be here’.

The night also honoured No2ID with the ‘Long Walk’ award and the Tricycle Theatre won the Human Rights Arts award, which was awarded in association with the Southbank Centre.  Lawyer of the Year went to Karen Monaghan for her contribution across a range of cases in the fields of equality, civil liberties and human rights.  Young Legal Aid Lawyers used the opportunity of winning Young Person of the Year to rail against the expected cuts to legal aid.

All in all, the night was a real triumph - it will be hard to top next year!