19 July 2005
Public Orator, Dr Barbara
Bagilhole presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held
on Tuesday 19 July 2005 at 10.30am
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Graduates.
It is a great pleasure and
honour to introduce Shami Chakrabarti, human rights advocate and one
of the most active barristers in the UK. She read law at the London
School of Economics, and was called to the Bar in 1994. Following this
she worked at the Home Office for five and a half years. During that
time she advised Ministers in both Labour and Conservative Governments
on a range of sensitive issues, worked on the passage of 12 Parliamentary
Bills and was one of the Home Office officials responsible for the implementation
of the Human Rights Act 1998. She also acted in a number of high profile
cases in both the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights
In 2001, she joined Liberty,
one of the oldest civil liberties organisations launched over 70 years
ago, and was appointed as its Director in 2003. Subsequently, she has
led this leading human rights charity in its important campaigns in
the courts and in the political arena. In her persuasive speeches and
articles in the media she has employed her excellent advocacy skills
in order to bring Liberty’s issues to the fore.
Shami who has a passion for
working towards human rights believes they should be at the core of
society’s value system, and there is a need to ‘create a
culture of respect for human rights’ with acknowledgement that
rights and freedoms are the concern of us all and are not merely the
business of lawyers. She has paid tribute to her father, who moved to
Britain in the 1950s, for initiating her passion towards human rights,
and cites ‘being a mother’ as another reason why she cares
so much about human rights. She believes motherhood has given her greater
confidence and a sense of empowerment.
Shami is an extremely active
member of Britain’s human rights and public law community. She
is Executive Governor of the British Institute of Human Rights, an Executive
Committee Member of the Administrative Law Bar Association, and Editorial
Board Member of the European Human Rights Law Review. She has published
numerous articles on civil liberty issues for a number of practitioner
and other journals.
This year Shami was named
as a winner in the sixth annual Asian Women of Achievements Awards.
Her appointment to head of Liberty in 2003 was described as chipping
the unofficial glass ceiling for Indian professionals in the West. Last
year Shami was selected by The Observer newspaper as one of 80 prodigiously
talented young people who they believe will shape our lives in the 21st
century. I am therefore pleased to predict that we can expect to see
Shami Chakrabarti continuing to fly the banner for basic human rights
in the future.
Therefore, Chancellor, I
have the honour to present to you, and to the whole University, Shami
Chakrabarti for the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.