Liberty names Doughty Street barrister as new director

Doughty Street barrister Martha Spurrier has been named the next director of human rights campaign group Liberty, succeeding Shami Chakrabarti.

Spurrier joined Doughty Street when she was called to the Bar in 2010, building up a practice of advising on judicial reviews and civil claims against prisons, police and health authorities, as well as specialising on claims on behalf of children and people with mental health problems.

She previously worked at the Public Law Project and mental health charity Mind.

Spurrier, who will take on the post at the end of May, said in a statement: “It’s a huge privilege to join an organisation I’ve admired and supported for so long. Liberty is a dynamic, dauntless and unshakeably principled force in the fight to protect our rights and freedoms. It has been fearlessly confronting state power for more than eight decades – and its work is needed now more than ever.”

Chair of Liberty Frances Butler said Spurrier “shone out in a competitive field as our unanimous choice to lead Liberty into the next phase of its proud history”.

Butler continued: “She is a compelling and fearless campaigner with energy, gravitas, a first-class mind and a quick wit. We are confident that, under Martha’s leadership, Liberty will continue to vigorously and successfully champion all our rights and freedoms.”

As director, Spurrier will lead Liberty through a critical time for human rights in the UK with the advent of the Investigatory Powers Bill and the proposed scrapping of the Human Rights Act.

Chakrabarti stepped down earlier this year after 12 years heading up the rights group. She said she was proud to be succeeded by “such a brilliant young barrister”.