At Humber Mouth on 28 June 2007
16 June 1969
|Residence||Lambeth, South London|
|Alma mater||London School of Economics|
|Occupation||Lawyer, Director of Liberty|
Sharmishta Chakrabarti CBE (born 16 June 1969) is the Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and the director, since September 2003, of the British civil liberties advocacy organisation Liberty.
Chakrabarti was born to Hindu-Bengali parents in the suburb of Kenton in the London Borough of Harrow. Her father, a bookkeeper, has been cited by Chakrabarti as an influence on her gaining an interest in civil liberties. She attended Bentley Wood High School, a girls' comprehensive school, then Harrow Weald Sixth Form College. Chakrabarti was an active member of the Social Democratic Party from 1985 to 1987, leaving before she was 18.
She studied Law at the London School of Economics, at one point acting as a research assistant to Leonard Leigh who wrote a paper on the British approach to terrorism and extradition; the paper was published in early 1997. After graduating with a Bachelor of Laws, Chakrabarti was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1994. In 1996, she started working as a barrister for the Home Office.
On 10 September 2001, she joined the human rights organisation Liberty.
After working as in-house counsel, Chakrabarti was appointed director of Liberty in 2003. As director, she has campaigned against what the pressure group sees as the "excessive" anti-terrorist measures that followed the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States, such as the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCSA). The organisation is a prominent opponent of recent counter-terrorism legislation.
Chakrabarti is a frequently invited contributor to BBC Radio 4 and various newspapers on the topic of human rights and civil liberties. The Observer wrote that she puts in "seemingly endless appearances on Question Time and the rolling news bulletins". She was also described in The Times newspaper as "the most effective public affairs lobbyist of the past 20 years"
In December 2005, the BBC Radio 4 Today programme ran a poll of listeners to establish "who runs Britain." After many hours of debate, Today placed Shami Chakrabarti on the shortlist of ten people "who may run Britain."
She was also shortlisted in the Channel 4 Political Awards 2006 for the "Most Inspiring Political Figure" award. It was voted for by the public and she came second to Jamie Oliver, above Tony Blair, David Cameron, George Galloway and Bob Geldof.
Andy Burnham controversy
In June 2008, Andrew Burnham, then British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, made insinuations in an interview in Progress magazine at Shadow Home Secretary David Davis's resignation over the 42-day detention for terror suspects. Davis, a Conservative MP, was said by Burnham to have had "late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone calls with Shami Chakrabarti." Chakrabarti received an apology from Burnham for his "innuendo and attempted character assassination".
On 18 April 2009, it was reported in The Times and The Daily Telegraph that policemen who raided the parliamentary office of the Conservative frontbencher Damian Green and arrested him as part of an inquiry into the leaking of Home Office documents had searched through e-mails and computer documents going back a number of years using Chakrabarti's name as one of the keywords. The Times reported her as saying that she believed the actions of Scotland Yard's anti-terror squad "raises very serious questions about just how politicised, even McCarthyite, this operation was."
London School of Economics
When the London School of Economics accepted a £1.5 million donation from Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Chakrabarti was on the governing board of the institution. Chakrabarti stated that she did not "attend the 2009 Council meeting which approved a donation to the school from Saif Gaddafi's Foundation" and that she "only subsequently raised concerns about links with Mr Gaddafi, given his father's appalling regime." She went on to state that she did not think "the decision in question resulted from anything other than a naive assessment, made in good faith, of the democratic reforming ambitions of the dictator's son."
Howard Davies, LSE Director at the time, resigned over the issue, citing "personal error of judgement." Despite not being present at the meeting where the donation was approved, Chakrabarti was accused of 'hypocrisy' by the 'Student Rights' organisation for being "the director of a human rights group while legitimizing murderous regimes" as a governor of the LSE, and called for her (and others) to resign from the LSE. Anthony Glees, director of Buckingham University's Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, also said Chakrabarti should resign. On 9 December 2011, Chakrabarti wrote to the Metropolitan Police asking them to investigate the legality of the donations. She is no longer a member of the LSE's council or the board of governors.
The Leveson Inquiry
In July 2011, Chakrabarti was announced as one of the panel members of the Leveson Inquiry, a judicial inquiry into phone hacking in the UK. Other panel members include veteran journalist George Jones; former Channel 4 News political editor Elinor Goodman; former Financial Times chairman Sir David Bell; former Ofcom chairman Lord Currie and former West Midlands Police chief constable Sir Paul Scott-Lee QPM. Chakrabarti described her invitation onto the Inquiry as 'a daunting privilege' and said it reflected Liberty's 'belief in an appropriate balance between personal privacy and media freedom and above all in the Rule of law'. Contrary to some media reports, Chakrabarti remains in Liberty's employment and neither she nor Liberty are taking any remuneration for her role on the panel.
The Inquiry is being led by Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Leveson. Part 1 of the Inquiry, the Report into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press, was published on Thursday 29 November 2012. On behalf of Liberty, Chakrabarti welcomed the principal recommendation of a more robust and independent press self-regulator, but said Liberty would be unable to support the Report's last-resort alternative of compulsory statutory regulation.
Awards and honours
On 13 July 2011, Shami Chakrabarti was recognised by the University of Glamorgan with an Honorary Doctorate for her contribution to "the protection of civil liberties and promotion of human rights in the United Kingdom." She became an honorary graduate of Middlesex University on 18 July 2011.
On 27 July 2012, Shami Chakrabarti was one of eight Olympic Flag carriers dressed in white at the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, erroneously described as, "the founder of Liberty."
- "Shami Chakrabarti". Desert Island Discs. 2 Nov 2008. BBC Radio 4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00f5l38. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
- "Calls to the Bar", The Independent, 14 October 1994.
- Leonard Leigh, "Terrorism and extradition: a British perspective" in "Terrorism and International Law", Routledge, 1997, pp. 166–184.
- "Director of Liberty appointed University Chancellor". Oxford Brookes University. 16 June 2008.
- Vallely, Paul (21 June 2008). "Shami Chakrabarti: Heart of the matter – Profiles, People – The Independent". The Independent (London).
- "University of Essex :: Annual Review, 2005–2006 :: Honorary graduates". Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- "Desert Island Discs featuring Shami Chakrabarti". Desert Island Discs. 2 November 2008. BBC. Radio 4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/desertislanddiscs_20081102.shtml.
- British American Project
- Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (17 March 2008). "This unhealthy strain of left-wing McCarthyism". The Independent (London).
- Chakrabarti, Shami (20 May 2007). "So much freedom lost and on my watch". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- Doward, Jamie (22 June 2008). "Profile: Shami Chakrabarti, the undaunted freedom fighter". The Guardian (London).
- The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion
- "Who runs Britain". Today Programme. BBC Radio 4. 2005. Retrieved May 2013.
- Channel 4 Political Awards 2007.Channel4.com. Retrieved on 30 November 2008
- Patrick Wintour "Chakrabarti threatens to sue over Minister's jibe", The Guardian, 20 June 2008
- James Chapman "I may sue over David Davis slur, civil rights chief warns Minister", Daily Mail, 19 June 2008
- Robert Winnett "Andy Burnham writes letter of apology to Shami Chakrabarti for David Davis comments", Daily Telegraph, 21 June 2008
- Sylvester, Rachel; Thomson, Alice (18 April 2009). "Shami Chakrabarti was target in police search". The Times (London). Retrieved 20 October 2009.
- Edwards, Richard; Prince, Rosa; Wardrop, Murray (18 April 2009). "Damian Green raid: police search emails for Liberty head". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 20 October 2009.[dead link]
- "Liberty's Director and the LSE", Liberty website, 11 March 2011
- Vasagar, Jeevan; Syal, Rajeev (4 March 2011). "Howard Davies insists Gaddafi gifts did not undermine LSE's independence". The Guardian (London).
- John Paul "LSE head resigns over Libya link", Jerusalem Post, 6 March 2011
- Anna Davis, Peter Dominiczak and Joshua Neicho "LSE chief: It was not a mistake for us to train Libyan officials", Evening Standard, 4 March 2011
- "Yard is called in over LSE's £1.5m from Gadaffi son", Sunday Times, 11 December 2011
- Report on Part 1 of the Leveson Enquiry
- Liberty's response to the Leveson Report
- The London Gazette: . 16 June 2007. Retrieved 9 January 2008.
- "UK to honour Shami Chakrabarti with honorary degree". The Times of India. 8 July 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
- Freedom to think. "Watch Shami Chakrabati accept her honorary doctorate". University of Glamorgan, UK.
- The Asian Today Online – Entertainment – Indian choreographer to receive University doctorate
- BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list
- Liberty website
- "Liberty boss Shami Chakrabarti was targeted by Damian Green probe detectives", The Telegraph, 18 Apr 2009
|Non-profit organization positions|
|Director of Liberty
2003 – present
|Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University