Liberty honours the good, the great and the gutsy at our Human Rights Awards

Posted by Ian McDonald on 03 December 2014

Liberty has honoured groundbreaking campaigners, lawyers, artists and young people for their commitment to protecting and promoting the rights of others at our annual Human Rights Awards. 

The awards – hosted by writer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig at London’s Southbank Centre – saw Dominic Grieve QC MP receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his unwavering defence of legal principles during his time as Attorney General, and his continuing dedication to human rights.

Vanessa Redgrave and Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti in conversation at the Liberty Human Rights Awards 2014

Other winners included Meltem Avcil, recognised for her campaign to end the detention of women seeking asylum, and UK Families Flight 103, for their courageous and tireless fight to seek justice for the 270 people who lost their lives in the Lockerbie bombing of 1988.

To celebrate 80 years of holding the powerful to account in the name of freedom, fairness and justice, this year we opened this special celebration to the public for the first time. A packed Queen Elizabeth Hall was treated to performances from the great Billy Bragg and rising singer-songwriter Natasha North, as well as inspiring words from stage and screen legend, activist and long-time member Vanessa Redgrave, in conversation with our Director, Shami. You can see the evening's highlights on our YouTube channel.

The Liberty Human Rights Awards 2014 winners and nominees in full were:

Human Rights ‘Long Walk’ Award

UK Families Flight 103 – for working to keep the memory of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing alive and to seek justice for the 270 people who lost their lives. Faced with endless bureaucracy, complex international politics and huge financial and emotional strain, their courage has been tested to the limit.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Right Honourable Dominic Grieve QC MP – as Attorney General under the Coalition until July 2014, and Shadow Attorney General from 2003 to 2009, Dominic Grieve was an outspoken advocate of fundamental rights and freedoms.

Meltem Avcil receives the Christine Jackson Young Person Award at the Liberty Human Rights Awards 2014The Christine Jackson Young Person Award

Meltem Avcil – for campaigning alongside Women for Refugee Women to end the detention of women seeking asylum. With more than 50,000 signatures on her petition, Meltem continues to bring hope to the thousands locked up without crime or cause. The other nominees were Chrisann Jarrett and Fahma Mohamed.

Human Rights ‘Close to Home’ Award

Refuge – for continuing its courageous fight, alongside the families of domestic violence victims, to bring about meaningful changes which could save the lives of thousands of women and children. Having seen so many women let down by police and other state agencies, this year Refuge launched a campaign calling for a full public inquiry. The other nominees were the Prisoners’ Advice Service and the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace.

Human Rights Arts Award

CITIZENFOUR, Laura Poitras – for exposing the breathtaking scale of US and UK global surveillance in her documentary CITIZENFOUR, telling the story of the disclosures of former CIA technician Edward Snowden. The other nominees were Heart n Soul’s The Beautiful Octopus Club, Warsan Shire and Gillian Wearing for her sculpture A Real Birmingham Family.

Human Rights Lawyer of the Year

Harriet Wistrich, Birnberg Peirce and Partners – for winning a groundbreaking victory in the John Worboys case, concerning women sexually assaulted by the London taxi driver, where she succeeded in showing police failures constituted a violation of Article 3. Harriet currently acts for several women bringing claims against the Metropolitan Police over the conduct of undercover officers like Mark Kennedy. The other nominees were Rosa Curling of Leigh Day and John Halford of Bindmans LLP.

Human Rights Campaign of the Year Award

Lord Low of Dalston, CBE – for leading the campaign to ensure the protection of the Human Rights Act would apply to all residential care provided or arranged by local authorities. His victory forced the Government to accept the importance of guaranteeing human rights protections by demonstrating just how relevant those rights are for all. The other nominees were medConfidential and Police Spies Out of Lives.