Chakrabarti steps down as Liberty director

Topics: Human rights

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Former in-house lawyer Shami Chakrabarti has announced she is stepping down as director of human rights group Liberty.

Chakrabarti (pictured) joined the civil rights advocacy organisation as in-house counsel the day before the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. She was appointed director two years later.


In a statement on Liberty’s website today, Chakrabarti said it had 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 EM 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.’

Liberty’s announcement states that during Chakrabarti’s time in the organisation, it 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’ section 44 stop-and-search-without-suspicion powers.

Chakrabarti, who was called to the bar in 1994, worked as a lawyer in the Home Office from 1996 to 2001.

Speaking to the Gazette in 2013, Chakrabarti described moving from in-house counsel at Liberty to director as the ‘biggest change in my career’.

She said at the time: ‘I had to learn not just to be a lawyer but to be a senior manager, a fundraiser and a campaigner – all of those things they don’t teach you at bar school.

‘Sometimes lawyers are a little bit sniffy about things like management, and think that because they are professionals they don’t need to do it or receive it. I hope that is changing.’

Readers' comments (41)

  • "The most dangerous woman in Brtitain" Discuss.

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  • I would not know why. Who says this?

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  • Why is this news?

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  • Nonsense, David. No purer kernel of pernicious, reckless, damaging evil exists as that residing within the Home Secretary.

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  • Interesting question David. Legal activism is a a potentially explosive device so needs to be used with some care, and it is easy to drift into being a rebel looking for a cause ... I think she probably showed more respect to our institutions than many of our politicians though and she does at least have more legal qualifications that the Lord Chancellor. I wonder why she stood down.

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  • Powerful, no , outspoken yes, I wonder what useless Quang she will end up at or is it time the lady got a real job?

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  • Personally, I hope Ms Chakrabarti ends up in the Lords. I am sad to see her leave Liberty, but 12 years as Director is a good stint and she has certainly made her mark. I wish her all the best.

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  • Can't say I am really bothered, I didn't like a lot of what she said, I didn't elect her to speak for me, come to think of it who did elect her. If she is given any kind of recognition in the form of an honour it will be a complete afront to all the good and decent charitable people of this country!

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  • Dangerous? As Burke said, "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." In our Society Liberty has to perform the task of doing something when other good people either can't be bothered or don't see the need..
    You don't always have to agree with Shami Chakrabarti and Liberty in order to recognise their value in standing up for the freedoms all of us should be doing more to protect.

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  • Dont let her end up in the Lords. We dont need any more wets there. I only like the Lords because its un elected unlike the bunch
    in the other place.

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