The Baroness Chakrabarti
|Shadow Attorney General for England and Wales|
|Assumed office |
6 October 2016
|Preceded by||Karl Turner|
|Chancellor of the University of Essex|
2 September 2014 – 22 July 2017
|Vice Chancellor||Anthony Forster|
|Preceded by||The Lord Phillips of Sudbury|
|Succeeded by||John Bercow|
|Member of the House of Lords|
|Assumed office |
6 September 2016
16 June 1969
Kenton, London, England
|Political party||Labour (2016–present)|
|Spouse(s)||Martyn Hopper (m. 1995; div. 2014)|
|Residence||Lambeth, South London|
|Alma mater||London School of Economics|
Sharmishta Chakrabarti, Baroness Chakrabarti, CBE, PC (born 16 June 1969), commonly known as Shami Chakrabarti, is a British Labour Party politician and member of the House of Lords. She is a barrister, and was the director of Liberty, an advocacy group which promotes civil liberties and human rights, from 2003 to 2016.
Chakrabarti was born in the London Borough of Harrow, and studied Law at the London School of Economics. After graduating, she was called to the Bar and then worked as an in-house legal counsel for the Home Office.
When she was the director of Liberty, she campaigned against "excessive" anti-terror legislation. In this role she frequently contributed to BBC Radio 4 and various newspapers, and was described in The Times as "probably the most effective public affairs lobbyist of the past 20 years". Between 2014 and 2017 she served as Chancellor of the University of Essex.
Chakrabarti was one of the panel members of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards throughout 2011 and 2012. In April 2016, she was invited by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to chair an inquiry into alleged anti-semitism in the Labour Party, and she presented its findings in June. That August, she was the only person nominated by Corbyn to receive a life peerage in the Prime Minister's Resignation Honours.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Liberty
- 3 Leveson Inquiry
- 4 Labour Party career
- 5 International relations
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Awards and honours
- 8 On Liberty
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Chakrabarti was born to 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. She was a member of the SDP.
Both her parents were educated in Roman Catholic schools in Calcutta, while she herself attended a Baptist Sunday school as a child. In 2007 she broadcast a Lent talk for BBC Radio 4. She identifies as a feminist.
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 finally in 1997. After graduating with an LLB degree in 1991, Chakrabarti was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1994. In 1996, she started working as a barrister for the Home Office.
After working as in-house counsel, Chakrabarti was appointed director of Liberty in 2003. As director, she campaigned against what the pressure group saw 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 by David Aaronovitch in The Times as "probably 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 Chakrabarti on the shortlist of ten people "who may run Britain."
She was 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, Andy Burnham, the British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, made what Chakrabarti claimed were "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."
Phil Shiner is a British former human rights solicitor and was Head of Strategic Litigation at Public Interest Lawyers (International) from 2014 until the firm's closure in August 2016, when he was struck off the roll of solicitors in England and Wales over misconduct relating to false abuse claims against British troops. Shiner's disgrace resulted in criticism by former army officers of Chakrabarti and her support for Shiner.
Johnny Mercer MP, a retired Army captain, chided Chakrabarti "almost child-like understanding of military operations" and for "trying to retrospectively apply European Human Rights Law to the battlefield". Richard Kemp, a retired Army colonel and commander of the first Task Force Helmand in Afghanistan in 2003, accused Chakrabarti of being "one of [Shiner's] greatest supporters". He said that she had been saddened by Shiner's downfall and had said that, before "losing his way", he had "given good service to the public" and "did some very good work that has been upheld by a judicial inquiry". 
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." Chakrabarti was accused of hypocrisy by the Student Rights project of the Henry Jackson Society  as being "the director of a human rights group while legitimizing murderous regimes" as a governor of the LSE and they 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. Chakrabarti admitted to feeling "bucketfuls" of embarrassment and shame about the affair and in April 2013 her spokesman confirmed that she had severed all ties with the LSE.
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. 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".
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.
She was one of two panel members to waive their right to claim fees or expenses for the duration of the inquiry.
Labour Party career
Labour antisemitism inquiry
After her appointment in April 2016 as chair of an inquiry into antisemitism in the Labour Party, Chakrabarti announced that she had joined the party, and expressed confidence that this would not compromise her independence. Following this, Chakrabarti criticised the Conservative Party for not conducting their own enquiry into Islamophobia, following allegations from Sayeeda Warsi about Islamophobia in the London's 2016 mayoral election against Sadiq Khan. The Chakrabarti Inquiry was published in June 2016 and concluded that Labour was "not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of racism," despite an "occasionally toxic atmosphere".
Jeremy Corbyn announced her as the only Labour appointment to the House of Lords in August 2016, which some Labour MPs said undermined the credibility of the antisemitism inquiry she had led. The Community Security Trust, which monitors antisemitism in Britain, said the move was "a shameless kick in the teeth for all who put hope in her now wholly compromised inquiry into Labour antisemitism". Marie van der Zyl, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, called it a "whitewash for peerages scandal." When asked about the appointment, a spokesman for Corbyn said that Chakrabarti was "an ideal appointment to the Lords".
Labour peerage and shadow cabinet
Chakrabarti has been a member of at least two groups which exist to promote Anglo-American political and military co-operation. She is an alumna of the British-American Project, and has been a governor of the Ditchley Foundation.
Chakrabati was married to Martyn Hopper, a litigation lawyer, from 1995 until they divorced in 2014.
She opposes grammar schools on the grounds of social divisiveness and because she says they enforce segregation. Her son attends £18,915-a-year (2016–17 academic year tuition fees) public school Dulwich College, leading many to attack her views on education as hypocritical.
Awards and honours
She is a governor of the British Film Institute.
She was one of eight Olympic Flag carriers at the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony (the announcer incorrectly described her as "the founder of Liberty"). She was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom in 2013 by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4, and in 2014 she was included in The Sunday Times's "100 Makers of the 21st Century" list.
In May 2018, it was announced that she was to be sworn of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. This usually allows the style ‘The Right Honourable’, however, as a peer, she is already styled as such and therefore uses the post-nominal ‘PC’.
- University Degrees
|England||1994||London School of Economics||Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) |
- Chancellor, visitor, governor, and fellowships
|England||2006 – 2015||Oxford Brookes University||Chancellor |
|England||7 November 2006 –||Middle Temple||Master of the Bench |
|England||2007 –||Goldsmiths, University of London||Honorary Fellowship  |
|England||September 2014 – July 2017||University of Essex||Chancellor  |
|England||2014 –||University of Manchester||Honorary Law Professorhip |
|England||Nuffield College, Oxford||Visiting Fellowship|
|England||Mansfield College, Oxford||Honorary Fellowship|
|England||– April 2013||London School of Economics||Governor|
|England||2016 –||Cumberland Lodge||Visiting Fellowship |
|England||2 March 2017 –||Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge||Honorary Fellowship |
|England||1 February 2018 –||University of Bristol||Honorary Law Professorship |
- Honorary Degrees
On Liberty, Chakrabarti's first book, was published by Allen Lane in 2014. In November 2015, the settlement was announced of a High Court libel case brought by Martin Hemming, formerly the Legal Adviser to the Ministry of Defence, concerning false allegations made by Chakrabarti. The publishers apologised for the "hurt and distress caused" by the allegations, confirmed they were "without foundation", and agreed to pay Hemming damages and legal costs.
- Taking Liberties – a film in which Shami Chakrabarti was one of the participants
- "Anti-Semitism inquiry leader Shami Chakrabarti joins Labour". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
- "Shami Chakrabarti". Desert Island Discs. 2 November 2008. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- Lodge, Will (7 October 2016). "Baroness Shami Chakrabarti steps down from role as University of Essex chancellor". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
- Vallely, Paul (21 June 2008). "Shami Chakrabarti: Heart of the matter – Profiles, People – The Independent". The Independent. London.
- "Civil Liberty – Good riddance Shami". www.civilliberty.org.uk.
- "Interview: Shami Chakrabarti – Civil Service World". www.civilserviceworld.com.
- Zeisler, Andi (3 May 2016). "We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement". PublicAffairs – via Google Books.
- Leonard Leigh, "Terrorism and extradition: a British perspective" in "Terrorism and International Law", Routledge, 1997, pp. 166–184.
- Notable alumni - in: "Alumni Guide" of the LSE
- "Calls to the Bar", The Independent, 14 October 1994.
- "Desert Island Discs featuring Shami Chakrabarti". Desert Island Discs. 2 November 2008. BBC. BBC Radio 4.
- 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.
- Aaronovitch, David (26 February 2008). "Ignore the paranoid fantasists". The Times online. Retrieved 5 August 2016. (subscription may be required or content may be available in libraries)
- "Who runs Britain?". Today Programme. BBC Radio 4. 2005. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
- Channel 4 Political Awards 2007.Channel4.com. Retrieved on 30 November 2008
- Owen Bowcott. "Liberty names barrister Martha Spurrier as new director". the Guardian.
- Patrick Wintour "Chakrabarti threatens to sue over Minister's jibe", The Guardian, 20 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. Archived from the original on 21 April 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
- "Iraq lawyer Phil Shiner struck off over misconduct". BBC News. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
- Farmer, Ben (12 February 2017). "Disgraced Iraq lawyer Phil Shiner 'did good work, but lost his way' says Labour Baroness Chakrabarti". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
- "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.
- Aked, Hilary. "Ironically Named 'Student Rights' Group Exposed by Actual Students". Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
- 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" Archived 7 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Evening Standard, 4 March 2011.
- "Yard is called in over LSE's £1.5m from Gadaffi son", Sunday Times, 11 December 2011.
- "Shami Chakrabarti disowns the LSE". Daily Telegraph. 16 April 2013.
- "Phone hacking: David Cameron names inquiry panel". Daily Telegraph. 20 July 2011.
- "Liberty responds to Leveson Report". liberty-human-rights.org.uk.
- "Leveson Inquiry cost £1.9m in first six months". Press Gazette. Archived from the original on 18 October 2014.
- "Anti-Semitism inquiry leader Shami Chakrabarti joins Labour". BBC News. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- Dysch, Marcus (16 May 2016). "Head of inquiry into Labour antisemitism Shami Chakrabarti reveals she has joined the party". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- Waugh, Paul (16 May 2016). "Chakrabarti Hits Out At Tory 'Islamophobia'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "Shami Chakrabarti declines to deny offer of peerage by Labour". The Guardian. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
- "Corbyn's offer of peerage to Shami Chakrabarti causes Labour tensions".
- "Anger as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hands Shami Chakrabarti a peerage".
- "No. 61701". The London Gazette. 12 September 2016. p. 19332.
- "This Year". British-American Project. 2007. Archived from the original on 7 November 2007.
Shami Chakrabati of Liberty (and BAP member) will chair a session of BAP members involved in faith
- Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (17 March 2008). "This unhealthy strain of left-wing McCarthyism". The Independent. London.
- "The Governors". Ditchley Foundation. Archived from the original on 26 September 2006.
- Ryan, Frances (10 October 2016). "Shami Chakrabarti has undermined the education system she argues for". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- McQuillan, Rebecca (7 March 2016). "What will Shami Chakrabarti do next? Interview with the outgoing director of Liberty". The Herald. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- "Shami Chakrabarti denies hypocrisy claims over grammar schools".
- BBC. "London People: Shami Chakrabarti".
- Albiston, Isabel (24 March 2007). "The world of..." The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- "No. 58358". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2007. p. 7.
- "The British Academy President's Medal". British Academy. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
- "Shami". Spectator Blogs.
- "BBC Radio 4 – Woman's Hour – The Power List 2013". BBC.
- "Britain's movers and shakers – The Sunday Times". thesundaytimes.co.uk.
- "PAUL STUART / THOMAS HEATHERWICK / THE SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE". twentytwentyagency.com.
- "Queen confers Peerages". gov.uk. 18 May 2018. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
- Editor, LSE Corporate Web. "Shami Chakrabarti - Alumni profiles - Student and staff profiles - Meet our students, staff and alumni - Life at LSE - Home". www.lse.ac.uk. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Shami Chakrabarti and Professor Janet Beer get honorary degrees". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Middle Temple". www.middletemple.org.uk. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Honorands A-F". Goldsmiths, University of London.
- "Shami Chakrabati". Goldsmiths, University of London.
- "University of Essex - Farewell and thank you to our Chancellor, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti « Vice-Chancellor". blogs.essex.ac.uk. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- Lodge, Will. "Baroness Shami Chakrabarti steps down from role as University of Essex chancellor". Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Human rights campaigner joins University". University of Manchester. 10 February 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
- "Baroness Shami Chakrabarti - Cumberland Lodge". www.cumberlandlodge.ac.uk.
- "Shami Chakrabarti made Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish". The Cambridge Student. 1 March 2017.
- Bristol, University of. "2018: Shami Chakrabarti Honorary Professor of Law - University of Bristol Law School - University of Bristol". www.bristol.ac.uk.
- "Honorary Degree Orations". www.lboro.ac.uk.
- "Honorary Degrees". Roehampton University.
- "Shami Chakrabati - Sheffield Hallam University". www.shu.ac.uk.
- University, Staffordshire. "Full Honorary Graduates List". Staffordshire University.
- "Lord Attenborough bows out at Summer Graduation". www.sussex.ac.uk. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- Robinson, Debbie. "University of Exeter". www.exeter.ac.uk.
- "Previous honorary graduates - Honorary graduates - University of Exeter". www.exeter.ac.uk.
- "Distinguished Achievements With Honorary Degree Awards - University of Southampton". www.southampton.ac.uk. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "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. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011.
- USW GlamorganUniversity (15 July 2011). "Shami Chakrabati accepts her Honorary Doctorate of the University of Glamorgan". Retrieved 26 October 2018 – via YouTube.
- WalesOnline (6 July 2011). "University View: Julie Lydon, University of Glamorgan vice-chancellor". walesonline.
- WalesOnline (6 July 2011). "Leading biochemist among those honoured by university". walesonline.
- "Honorary Graduates 2013". York St John University.
- "Cardiff Met News Cardiff Met honours leading figures with Honorary Fellowships and Doctorates". www.cardiffmet.ac.uk.
- "Shami Chakrabarti CBE and Professor Janet Beer to receive honorary degrees - Oxford Brookes University". www.brookes.ac.uk. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "List by year - Oxford Brookes University". www.brookes.ac.uk.
- "Honorary Graduates - Brunel University London". www.brunel.ac.uk.
- "School of Advanced Study honour leading human rights campaigner". School of Advanced Study. 23 September 2016.
- "Liberty". liberty-human-rights.org.uk.
- "Publisher pays out over Army abuse claims by rights activist". Daily Telegraph. 4 November 2015.
- "Former chief MoD legal adviser receives apology from Penguin Books". Solicitors Journal. 9 November 2015.
Media related to Shami Chakrabarti at Wikimedia Commons
|Non-profit organization positions|
| Director of Liberty
| Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University
Andrew, Lord Phillips of Sudbury
| Chancellor of the University of Essex
| Shadow Attorney General
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