New Year, New Challenges, Same Liberty

Posted by Martha Spurrier on 31 December 2017

And just like that, it’s over. The years seem to disappear quicker than Cabinet ministers these days.

As another tally mark is added to Liberty's history, we’re older and wiser for it. That's 84 now – but we're as sprightly as ever.

There were attacks on rights and freedoms from many quarters in 2017, but it saw Liberty and all of our members and supporters do what we’re here to do – stand up to power, stand up for our rights and challenge intolerance, injustice and abuse of power wherever we find it.

It was the year we – as part of the Together for Children coalition – put an end to Government plans to let local councils opt out of their child protection obligations.

It was the year we campaigned long and hard alongside Against Borders for Children (ABC) to encourage parents and teachers to boycott the school census – a vehicle for the Home Office to get hold of children’s nationality and country of birth data to help with immigration enforcement. The latest figures show that a quarter of schools and families have refused to hand over this information – that’s thousands of families resisting and refusing, standing together to show the Government that the border has no place in our playgrounds.

And it was the year we exposed the Met Police’s secret use of facial recognition cameras – and then revealed just how dangerously ineffective that technology is.

Alongside Barnardo’s and Victim Support, we made the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) change guidelines that had led to children and young people who had experienced grooming and sexual abuse being refused compensation on the grounds they had ‘consented’. And CICA’s Chief Executive apologised to Liberty’s client HND, admitting he could never have consented to the abuse he suffered. 

Liberty client John Walker won his long-running landmark battle for same-sex pension equality after the Supreme Court unanimously backed him, finally consigning this archaic loophole to the history books (though the Government still hasn’t promised his victory will stay in place after Brexit).

We launched our landmark legal challenge to the Snoopers’ Charter. Thousands of you donated to that cause, covering our legal costs in just a few hours.

And in December – thanks to our client Tom Watson MP’s challenge the Government’s previous surveillance law – Amber Rudd finally admitted that the current regime needs to change to better protect our rights.

2018 and beyond…

In 2018, we are going to dismantle Theresa May’s “hostile environment” – a string of divisive and discriminatory policies designed to make life in the UK as unbearable as possible for migrants, whatever the cost.

We are representing ABC – as they take the Department for Education to court over the school census – as well as the Migrants’ Rights Network in their challenge to a secret data-sharing deal between the Home Office, Department of Health and NHS Digital.

The family of Private Sean Benton will finally learn the truth about what happened to their brother, 23 years after he died at Deepcut barracks. The new inquest into Sean’s death will begin in January.

Our challenge to the Snoopers’ Charter will come to the High Court, and we will put everything we can into making sure the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – the document laying out how we are going to leave the EU and what laws are coming with us – contains a People’s Clause guaranteeing we keep hold of all our rights.

And we and many others will keep campaigning to end indefinite immigration detention – the greatest stain on this country’s human rights record – by securing a long-overdue 28-day time limit. You can help us right now by signing this petition.

If the powerful thought we provided formidable opposition in 2017, they haven’t seen anything yet.

Happy New Year and thank you for your support – our work would not be possible without it.


Martha Spurrier

Martha Spurrier