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.’

Topics