Shami’s departure from Liberty is a blow to the British public’s battle to defend its civil liberties and human rights. [Home Secretary Theresa May and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling will be happy at Shami’s departure.]
As Liberty’s Director Shami has shown immense courage and tenacity in challenging the British government’s war on the basic human rights of its citizens.
The last 2 decades has been a challenging time in British society as governments – via the Home Office- continue to over reached their powers to strip away basic rights through numerous legislation proposals.
During my 6 years at the Home Office – covering police, crime and community safety issues – I had many debates with colleagues over what I felt were 1984 style policies. Such as the emotive 42 day detention policy.
Shami fought against the proposed National ID cards and I made my feelings clear with my Home Office colleagues throughout that period.
Yes, civil servants are meant to stay neutral but there is no harm in challenging government policies that you think it is daily mail pandering, gesture politics and a waste of public money. Such as the hiring of numerous consultants for the ill-fated ID cards project.
In the end David Cameron came to power in 2010 and immediately scrapped the National ID cards programme which meant a waste of £300m spent up to then.
I learnt from Shami that it is my duty to stand up for my views even if it is going against public opinion and your own colleagues. I also learnt to come to the debating table with convincing arguments, make it clear, listen to the counter arguments and not to get personal even if the other side does.
Shami has been one of the few leaders who – despite being in charge of a high profile organisation for over a decade – will leave the reputation of the organisation in a better place. Unlike similar leaders such as those who ran FIFA, IAAF and closer to home Kid’s Company.
We celebrate the lives of historical figures that have fought for the rights of its citizens. The UK has been fortunate to have such an influential and committed figure for the past 12 years.