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Doughty Street Chambers barrister to take over civil rights group Liberty

Doughty Street Chambers barrister and human rights campaigner Martha Spurrier has been appointed as the new director of Liberty, where she will succeed incumbent Shami Chakrabarti.

Chakrabarti departs today (31 March) after 13 years in the role of director at the civil liberties advocacy group. Once labelled the ‘most dangerous woman in Britain’ by The Sun, Chakrabarti, is known as a staunch public affairs lobbyist. Qualified as a barrister and having worked for the Home Office as a legal adviser between 1996 and 2001, work in recent years included protesting against the ban on sending books to prisoners, in a demonstration outside Pentonville prison in north London last year.

A junior barrister at Doughty Street for the last six years, Spurrier specialises in human rights defence, raising awareness of threats to fundamental freedoms and holding the state to account for neglect, abuse and mistreatment. Her case portfolio includes a successful challenge taken against the Lord Chancellor over the Remuneration Regulations 2014 that cut funding for claimant lawyers bringing judicial review claims; while she is regularly instructed in private and public law claims against the Home Office for the unlawful detention of immigration detainees.

Before joining Doughty Street, Spurrier worked as in-house counsel at Mind and the Public Law Project, where she gained experience of litigation in the higher courts. In 2012 she served as judicial assistant to Lord Justice Maurice Kay, vice-president of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal.

Spurrier will continue her close relationship with Doughty Street and remain as an associate tenant.

Liberty chair Frances Butler said Spurrier is ‘a compelling and fearless campaigner with energy, gravitas, a first-class mind and a quick wit.’

A statement from Doughty Street added: ‘We will miss her but we know that Martha will be fantastic in the role.’