Liberty has announced the appointment of its new director, namely campaigner and barrister Martha Spurrier, who succeeds Shami Chakrabarti in the role.
Spurrier joins Liberty with an exceptional track record in defending people’s rights, raising awareness of threats to fundamental freedoms and holding the State to account for “neglect, abuse and mistreatment”. Spurrier will join Liberty from Doughty Street Chambers, where she has specialised in defending access to justice and the rights of women, children and disabled people.
As a barrister, Spurrier has acted for bereaved families seeking answers after loved ones have died in State care, represented the victims of rape, domestic violence and trafficking who have been “failed by the police service” and also challenged attempts aimed at curbing press freedom and protest rights.
Spurrier was previously a lawyer at mental health charity Mind and the Public Law Project, where she led a groundbreaking access to justice project. She has written widely on civil liberties issues, and recently ran a high-profile campaign on the importance of the Human Rights Act in protecting ordinary people and their families.
“Dynamic, dauntless and unshakeably principled”
Commenting on her new role, Spurrier said: “It’s a huge privilege to join an organisation which I’ve admired and supported for so long now. Liberty is a dynamic, dauntless and unshakeably 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 arguably needed now more than ever. In this fast-paced and 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. I look forward to joining Liberty’s formidable staff and members to take on these challenges in the pivotal months and years to come.”
Frances Butler, chair of Liberty, added: “Martha Spurrier shone out in a competitive field as our unanimous choice to lead Liberty into the next phase of its proud history. She’s a compelling and fearless campaigner with energy, gravitas, a first-class mind and a quick wit. We’re confident that, under Martha’s leadership, Liberty will continue to vigorously and successfully champion all of our rights and freedoms.”
Shami Chakrabarti, former director of Liberty, said: “I’m 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 hearts. 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.”
A critical time for Liberty
Founded in 1934, Liberty is a multi-disciplinary team that works together to protect civil liberties and Human Rights through campaigning, test litigation, Parliamentary work and free advice and information.
Spurrier will now lead its team of campaigning, legal and policy experts at what is a critical time for Human Rights in the UK as the organisation campaigns to:
*Stop the “fatally flawed” Investigatory Powers Bill, which is “currently being rushed into law” despite a consensus among campaigners, technical experts and Parliamentary Committees alike that it’s not fit for purpose
*Save the Human Rights Act (which the Conservative Government has pledged to scrap)
*Curb the Government’s “discriminatory policing, immigration detention and asylum policies” which “threaten race relations” and “lack compassion”