Shami Chakrabarti served as Director of Liberty for more than a decade. In that time she has led many high profile campaigns, changed the face of Liberty (formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties) and oversaw the organisation’s involvement in the defence and promotion of human rights in Parliament and wider society. She now serves as Shadow Attorney General in the Labour Shadow Cabinet. Shami is a pithy and incisive guest speaker.
After training as a lawyer and serving as a barrister, Shami Chakrabarti joined the Home Office. Where she worked for five years, before joining Liberty as their in house counsel. The organisation was at the time a small, charitable organisation; more given to providing legal support for those whose rights may have been infringed, than to campaigning.
Shami joined Liberty the day before the 9/11 attacks, much of her and the organisation’s work would thereafter be defined by those events. Under her leadership, Liberty took on government, media and public opinion. Fighting for human rights and civil liberties; and attacking proposed legislation on ID cards, detention without charge and surveillance.
Established in 1934, Liberty has worked on everything from the Hunger Marches, to counter terrorism legislation and asylum issues. Shami Chakrabarti helped advance the organisation in profile and professionalism, making them a formidable and respected force in lobbying and public debate. She changed its culture, developed a greater collaborative ethos and became an indomitable advocate for rights and liberties; frequently facing personal criticism by the press and politicians. As her and Liberty’s profile rose, they became an important counter to much of the extreme, knee jerk reaction to threats both real and imagined.
As well as addressing the continued importance of civil liberties and human rights, Shami Chakrabarti also considers the importance of balancing security, privacy and freedom. She looks at the way public and commercial organisations view info and how legislation and tech are changing things. She also examines the lessons in leadership, working with government, and campaigning her time at Liberty taught; as well as reflecting on life as ‘the most dangerous woman in Britain’ (according to the Sun).
Shami Chakrabarti carried one of the eight white Olympic flags at the London 2012 opening ceremony, besides Doreen Lawrence and Nobel peace prize winner Leyma Gbowee. She was a panel member of the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking and has written a personal examination of rights and liberties ‘On Liberty’.
“The audience was charmed and inspired and everyone learnt something!” The Francis Crick Institute
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Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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