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Shami to Leave Liberty

(L-R) Anita Goyal, Leslee Udwin, Kerry Smith, Shami Chakrabarti and Avnish Goyal (File)

Shami Chakrabarti, one of the most powerful British Asians, to quit role at rights group Liberty

(L-R) Anita Goyal, Leslee Udwin, Kerry Smith, Shami Chakrabarti and Avnish Goyal (File)
(L-R) Anita Goyal, Leslee Udwin, Kerry Smith, Shami Chakrabarti and Avnish Goyal (File)

Civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti is to quit her role at Liberty. Her departure comes as counter-terrorism legislation, surveillance concerns and privacy issues continue to rise up the political agenda.

Chakrabarti, 46, will remain in post until the organisation has chosen her successor, the Guardian reported. She has declined to say what her next challenge will be, but has said she is looking forward to stepping aside from what she described as unrelenting pressures.

Ms Chakrabarti described her 12 years as Liberty’s director as an “enormous privilege”, and said she was leaving the group “stronger than ever”. Under her leadership, Liberty, which was founded in 1934, has campaigned on issues such as stop-and-search powers and compulsory ID cards.


Ms Chakrabarti in a statement said: “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, E M Forster, rightly called defending civil liberties ‘the fight that is never done’,” she said. “I leave Liberty secure in the knowledge that we’re stronger and more ready for that fight than ever.

“I’m a bit of a Marmite personality. People’s views of me vary greatly. I’m looking forward to more movies, theatre and time to catch up with friends.” Leading Liberty has been “very, very all-encompassing”.

The group’s chairman, Frances Butler, said Liberty had “greatly extended its expertise, influence and membership” under Ms Chakrabarti’s leadership.

Ms Chakrabarti was born in London and studied law at the London School of Economics. Between 1996 and 2001, she worked as a lawyer at the Home Office, before joining Liberty as in-house counsel in 2001 and becoming its director two years later.

During her time at the helm, she often appeared on political programmes alongside other public figures to debate topics such as the aborted plans to impose ID cards, surveillance and detention limits.

She was made a CBE in 2007 and was one of six people to have worked with Lord Justice Leveson on his inquiry into press ethics.