Liberty appoints Martha Spurrier as its new Director

31 March 2016

Martha SpurrierLiberty has today announced the appointment of its new Director – campaigner and barrister Martha Spurrier.

Martha comes to Liberty with an exceptional track record in defending people’s rights, raising awareness of threats to fundamental freedoms and holding the state to account for neglect, abuse and mistreatment. She will join Liberty from Doughty Street Chambers, where she has specialised in defending access to justice and the rights of women, children and disabled people.

 

New frontiers

As a barrister, Martha has acted for bereaved families seeking answers after loved ones have died in state care, represented victims of rape, domestic violence and trafficking who have been failed by the police, and challenged attempts to curb press freedom and protest rights. She was previously a lawyer at mental health charity Mind and the Public Law Project, where she led a ground-breaking access to justice project. She has written widely on civil liberties and recently ran a high-profile campaign on the importance of the Human Rights Act in protecting ordinary people and their families.

Martha Spurrier said: "It’s a huge privilege to join an organisation I’ve admired and supported for so long. Liberty is a dynamic, dauntless and unshakeably principled force in the fight to protect our rights and freedoms. It has been fearlessly confronting state power for more than eight decades – and its work is needed now more than ever.

“In this fast-paced, complex, digital world the battle to defend our human rights faces new frontiers. Liberty must continue to shine a light on abuses of power and protect equality, dignity and fairness in our society. I look forward to joining Liberty’s formidable staff and members to take on these challenges in the pivotal months and years to come.”

Frances Butler, Chair of Liberty, said: “Martha Spurrier shone out in a competitive field as our unanimous choice to lead Liberty into the next phase of its proud history.

“She is a compelling and fearless campaigner with energy, gravitas, a first-class mind and a quick wit. We are confident that, under Martha’s leadership, Liberty will continue to vigorously and successfully champion all our rights and freedoms.”

Shami Chakrabarti, former Director of Liberty, said: “I am proud to be succeeded by such a brilliant young barrister – a woman so capable of taking her advocacy from our highest courts to the nation's hearts.

“With so many threats to refugee protection, online privacy and even our Human Rights Act, Liberty was never more needed, nor its leadership ever in better hands."

A critical time for Liberty

Founded in 1934 in response to the hunger marches, Liberty is a multi-disciplinary team that works together to protect civil liberties and human rights through campaigning, test litigation, parliamentary work and free advice and information.

Martha will lead its team of campaigning, legal and policy experts at a critical time for human rights in the UK, as the organisation campaigns to:

•    Stop the fatally flawed Investigatory Powers Bill, currently being rushed into law despite a consensus among campaigners, tech experts and parliamentary committees that it is not fit for purpose.
•    Save the Human Rights Act, which the Government has pledged to scrap.
•    Curb the Government’s discriminatory policing, immigration detention and asylum policies which threaten race relations and lack compassion.

Contact: Liberty press office on 020 7378 3656, 07973 831 128 or pressoffice@liberty-human-rights.org.uk.