The fight that is never done
"Passionate in his hatred of injustice, wise in judgement, fearless in action, he championed the liberties of the people in the fight that is never done."
When Liberty's co-founder. Ronald Kidd died in 1942, his friend and colleague EM Forster wrote this tribute which hangs in our offices, always reminding me of what a privilege it is to lead this great organisation. Formed in 1934 in response to the suppression of the hunger marches, as desperate people protested against poverty, corruption and the threat of fascism, the National Council for Civil Liberties vowed to protect the vulnerable, to champion the rights of ordinary people and hold the powerful to account.
During my 14 years working at Liberty - 12 as Director - I have done my utmost to uphold these values, hand-in-hand with smart and capable colleagues and fellow members. There is so much that I am proud to have been a part of."
Liberty's Charge or Release campaign built cross-party and public opinion against unnecessary and divisive proposals for 42 days' detention without charge. Ineffective, unfair and intrusive ID cards were ultimately shelved and the House of Lords ruled the internment of foreign nationals in Belmarsh Prison to be unlawful. Then there was our landmark legal case against stop and search without suspicion under the infamous section 44 of the Terrorism Act, and a new criminal offence of holding someone in slavery.
We held three Prime Ministers and six Home Secretaries to account and witnessed seismic changes to the political landscape. We succeeded, even in the face of powerful and near overwhelming opposition.
I hand on an organisation of dedicated, principled and able members and colleagues who are more than a match for any overmighty government. I know that Liberty will continue to challenge bad laws, tackle unjust policy and give a voice to the voiceless. I leave our precious human rights in safe hands - yours.
Join us, become a member of Liberty today.
The recruitment process for the new director will begin in the next few weeks, and Shami will remain in post until her successor is appointed.
During this time, she will continue to lead Liberty’s team of campaigning, legal, media and policy experts as they gear up for a critical year for civil liberties and human rights in the UK.