Engaging talk inspires students

Shami Chakrabarti with Christ's Hospital students. Picture by Toby Phillips

Shami Chakrabarti with Christ's Hospital students. Picture by Toby Phillips

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Shami Chakrabarti visited Christ’s Hospital just before Easter to give a talk to senior pupils ‘On Liberty’.

Ms Chakrabarti joined the Human Rights campaign group Liberty in 2001 having worked as a lawyer in the Home Office.

She has only recently stepped down from her position as Liberty’s Director. Her successor, Martha Spurrier, has just been announced.

Year 13 pupil, Iona Grace Popat, gave her account of the evening: “On 22 March, Christ’s Hospital welcomed the most charming, witty and inspirational guest speaker I can remember.

“Nicknamed ‘the most dangerous woman in Britain’ by The Sun newspaper, Shami Chakrabarti initially joined us for an informal drink. It was immediately apparent that Shami did not live up to the editorial hyperbole but was instead an intelligent and impassioned conversationalist.

“Her engaging talk, entitled ‘On Liberty,’ battled with the social injustices facing modern Britain.

“Potential repeal of the Human Rights Act, sexism, racism and blanket surveillance were all key issues. Her intellect and insight were blended with her vibrant personality. She fluctuated from light-hearted comedy, such as the story of her son describing her as ‘a feminist but not a die-hard feminist’, to evoking a compassionate response with the report of the undercover policeman marrying, and even fathering children with, an environmental activist.

“The ease with which she drew upon this and other examples was illustrative of her passionate perception that progress in protecting the vulnerable is a vital objective for our time.

“By the end, The Sun’s description became understandable; Shami’s insistence that British society could improve its record on liberty, equality and justice could be seen as a threat by some.

“However, as listeners, we were motivated not to be complacent when it came to making change. She encouraged us to realise that our generation has the potential to translate social ideals into reality.”