Shami Chakrabarti is our Liberal Voice of 2007

Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti was the clear winner of our Liberal Voice 2007 poll, taking 101 votes (a third of all votes cast). Her only serious opposition was Radio 4’s The Now Show, who took the lead for the first day but came second with 72 votes (24%).

The other candidates were: John Bercow with 18 votes (6%), Samuel Brittain 15 (5%), Al Gore 30 (10%), Simon Jenkins 20 (7%), Philippe 10 Legrain (3%), Bob Marshall-Andrews 18 (6%) and Craig Murray 21 (7%).

It’s perhaps no clear surprise that Sharmi won, given the number of nominations we got for her to be one the shortlist. You can find the Liberty website here and Shami stars in the ‘Charge or Release’ campaign video at their MySpace page.

On that theme, our next poll asks how many days should be permitted under detention without charge.

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  • I hate to be a pedant, but the poll should be detention without charge.

    After charge but before trial, the provisions of the Bail Act apply – with the presumption of the right to bail but provision for the court to order remand in custody if any of the standard exemptions apply:

    likelihood of commission of further offences
    likelihood of not answering to bail
    need to protect witnesses
    need to protect the defendant
    likelihood of defendant compromising police enquiries re others implicated in the commission of these offences but not yet charged

    if it considers that no suitable bail conditions to meet these concerns can be applied.

    In general, custody time limits then impose an upper limit of 42 days by when the trial must be started or the defendant released. And the defendant has the right to apply to a judge for bail if the lower court refuses it.

    The right to bail no longer exists for murder and a small number of other offences carrying life imprisonment.

  • Hywel Morgan 13th Jan '08 - 3:31pm

    Chris Huhne is in favour of a reduction to 14 days.

  • Richard England 19th Mar '08 - 10:28am

    Hum. Regrettably Shami is also a firm supporter of the Secret Court system;

    “…there can be no public interest in the adoption proceedings themselves particularly if the birth family have not given up the child for adoption themselves. There should be no presumption in favour of allowing the media or the public or any other category of persons into adoption hearings.”

    She is of course excused on the basis that being close to New Labour, Liberty really can’t be expected to protest too much about Labours assaults on civil liberties – which is why the campaign group concentrates on moaning about citizens who put up a CCTV camera outside their house, rather than the governments obsession with personal data gathering.

  • Richard England 20th Mar '08 - 12:26pm

    The problem with Liberty is that New Labour isn’t just interested in impacting on the civil liberties of those at the margins of society (terorist suspects, paedophiles etc.) but is concerned with the reducing the civil liberties of the majority, the “un-sexy” masses.

    “The real litmus test of a human rights culture in any society is whether human rights can operate to protect the disenfranchised, the marginalised, the wretched the demonised.” Shami Chakrabarti (

    Unfortunately things have moved on a bit. It is the masses or rather the majority of the citizenship who have been impacted by new Labours assaults – and whilst Liberty concentrates on the tiny minority of high profile individuals – New Labour ran 3023 new criminal offences through the statute books.

    The case of Prisoner X and the woeful response from Liberty (well actually the complete lack of response) provides an adequate indication that Liberty shows scant interest in the normal public and is more obsessed with those possessing minority views. Still Liberty manages to demand that household CCTV installations be regulated (oh goody another government quango and reason to enter your premises!)

    Of course I speak in the minority – as a public speaker Shami can’t be matched. Nonetheless she is the public face of an organisation who in a previous guise enjoyed the leadership of Harriett Harman (former Legal Officer) and Patricia Hewitt (General Secretary.) And their opposition to Labour’s anti-civil liberties agenda whilst in office? Precisely none.

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