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On Liberty at Morley

Shami Chakrabarti

Last night saw the culmination of the autumn Penny Lecture series with the Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, giving an inspiring and informative talk drawing on her experiences at Liberty and time as a barrister for the Home Office.

This hugely anticipated lecture saw people queuing around the Morley building from 4:30pm with seats available on a first come first served basis, over 200 people filled the Emma Cons Hall to capacity with a second screening room also packed out.

Shami discussed several themes outlined in her new book On Liberty including blanket online surveillance, the War on Terror and the planned withdrawal of the European convention on human rights. This was followed by a lively Q&A session and a discussion on the use of language to mask laws that are contrary to our fundamental human rights.

Shami Chakrabarti has been Director of Liberty (The National Council for Civil Liberties) since September 2003. Shami first joined Liberty as In-House Counsel on 10 September 2001. She became heavily involved in its engagement with the 'War on Terror' and with the defence and promotion of human rights values in Parliament, the Courts and wider society.

Since becoming Liberty’s Director she has written, spoken and broadcast widely on the importance of the post-World War Two human rights framework as an essential component of democratic society.

This lecture is the third in the newly revived series of Penny Lectures which mark Morley’s 125th anniversary. Speakers included Professor Jerry White who discussed the history of London during the First World War, and Professor Roger Kneebone who outlined the similarities between surgery and craft and the shared learning opportunities of both.

The Penny Lectures date back to the earliest history of Morley College with found Emma Cons hosting weekly lectures at the Royal Victoria Coffee and Music Hall, which is now the Old Vic theatre. The aim was to offer morally-decent entertainment at affordable prices for the community. The lectures would play host to eminent scientists of the day and address the public on a wide range of topics all for just one penny.

The lecture series will continue in January with the lecture Cosmic Quest: From Babylon to the Big Bang by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest, followed by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell discussing The Unfinished Battle for LGBTI Rights in the UK in February.

You can view all our Penny Lectures on our YouTube channel.

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