Search for new Liberty Director begins as Shami Chakrabarti announces she is to leave after 12 years

14 January 2016

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of human rights group Liberty, has today announced that she is to leave the organisation after 12 years at the helm.

Shami first joined Liberty as in-house counsel on the day before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and was appointed Director two years later.

During her time in the role, the organisation has seen off attempts to impose compulsory ID cards, disrupted plans to extend pre-charge detention to 42 days, defeated the internment of foreign nationals in Belmarsh prison and challenged the divisive section 44 stop and search without suspicion powers.

In the face of increasingly savage attacks on our rights and freedoms, Liberty has repeatedly demonstrated the value of the Human Rights Act for all – from soldiers to protesters, the bereaved to the homeless, spied-on families to victims of modern slavery.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:

“It has been the most enormous privilege to lead Liberty for the past 12 years. With members, colleagues, lawyers, journalists and politicians from across the spectrum, we have held three Prime Ministers and six Home Secretaries to account.

“Liberty’s first President E.M. Forster rightly called defending civil liberties ‘the fight that is never done’. I leave Liberty secure in the knowledge that we’re stronger and more ready for that fight than ever.

“Human rights belong to everyone. Today we begin our search for someone ready to defend these values well into the future.”

Shami released her first book On Liberty in October 2014.

“The fight that is never done”

The recruitment process for the new Director will begin in the next few weeks, and Shami will remain in post until her successor is appointed.

During this time, she will continue to lead Liberty’s team of campaigning, legal, media and policy experts as they gear up for a critical year for civil liberties and human rights in the UK. Coming months are expected to see:

  • Government plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a weaker British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
  • A once in a generation opportunity to shape our surveillance laws through the Investigatory Powers Bill – which, in its draft form, seeks to legitimise mass surveillance and legalise hacking with pitiful oversight and accountability.
  • The inquest into the death of Private Cheryl James at Deepcut Barracks in 1995 – an investigation only secured after Liberty used the Human Rights Act to obtain crucial evidence.

Frances Butler, Chair of Liberty, said;

“Under Shami's transformative leadership, Liberty has greatly extended its expertise, influence and membership.

“Thanks to Shami's passion and fearlessness and absolute dedication to championing human rights and civil liberties, Liberty's long-term campaigning effectiveness is secured.”

Founded in 1934 in response to the hunger marches, Liberty has always been – and will continue to be – a multi-disciplinary team which works together to protect civil liberties and promote human rights.


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