Barrister and rights campaigner Martha Spurrier has been appointed the director of human rights group Liberty.

She replaces the former in-house lawyer Shami Chakrabarti who stepped down earlier this year.

Spurrier (pictured) joins the group from Doughty Street Chambers where she specialised in defending access to justice and the rights of women, children and disabled people.

She acted in a fight by two charities, the Howard League and the Prisoners’ Advice Service, against cuts to legal aid for prison law cases. 

She was previously a lawyer at mental health charity Mind and the Public Law Project, where she led an access to justice project.

Spurrier said it was a ‘privilege’ to join the organisation. She said: ‘Liberty is a dynamic, dauntless and unshakably 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.’

Frances Butler, chair of Liberty, described Spurrier as a ‘compelling and fearless campaigner’ with a ‘first-class mind and a quick wit’.

She added: ‘We are confident that, under Martha’s leadership, Liberty will continue to vigorously and successfully champion all our rights and freedom.’

Spurrier will lead the organisation as it campaigns to stop the investigatory powers bill, save the Human Rights Act, and curb what it described as the government’s ‘discriminatory’ policing, immigration detention and asylum policies.

Chakrabarti 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 heart.

‘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.’

Meanwhile 39 Essex Chambers, where Chakrabarti completed her pupillage, announced that the former director is to rejoin the set as a door tenant.