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Tuesday 19 July 2005


Shami Chakrabarti

Public Orator, Dr Barbara Bagilhole presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Tuesday 19 July 2005 at 10.30am

Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, 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 Strasbourg.

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.


Loughborough University - Degree Speeches 2005, July 2005
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