Shami Chakrabarti to leave human-rights group Liberty

Shami Chakrabarti, one of Britain's most vocal civil liberties supporters, who is to leave human rights campaign group Liberty. Picture by Dominic Lipinski, PA Wire 
Hayden Smith, Press Association

SHAMI Chakrabarti, one of Britain's most vocal civil liberties supporters, is to leave human rights campaign group Liberty.

The 46-year-old announced her departure from her role as the organisation's director after 12 years in which she has repeatedly clashed with governments.

During her time at the helm, Liberty has fought battles over issues including aborted plans to impose compulsory ID cards, proposals to extend pre-charge detention to 42 days, and stop-and-search powers.

Ms Chakrabarti, who was once described by radio presenter and columnist Jon Gaunt as "Britain's most dangerous woman", has recently spoken out about proposed new snooping laws and plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British bill of rights.

The mother-of-one 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, 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. Today we begin our search for someone ready to defend these values well into the future."

Born in London, Ms Chakrabarti studied law at the London School of Economics and was called to the bar in 1994, going on to work as a lawyer in the Home Office from 1996 to 2001.

She joined Liberty as in-house counsel in 2001, and was appointed director two years later. In 2007, she was made a CBE.

Ms Chakrabarti was one of six assessors who worked with Lord Justice Leveson on his inquiry into press ethics.

She released her first book, On Liberty, in October 2014.

Liberty, which was founded in 1934, said the recruitment process for her replacement will begin in the coming weeks. Ms Chakrabarti will remain in the role until her successor is appointed.

Liberty chairwoman Frances Butler said: "Under Shami's transformative leadership, Liberty has greatly extended its expertise, influence and membership."


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