Shami Chakrabarti to Speak at Great ORA Debate

This week we announced prominent human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti as our guest speaker for the Great ORA Debate. 

Chakrabarti served as director of Liberty from 2003 to 2016.

On the 24th July we will be hosting our inaugural Great ORA Debate, an evening of stimulating speeches and discussion held in the inspiring surroundings of Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre. Whilst only students aged 16-18 on campus in session 4 will have access to the building itself, we will be opening up a broader conversation across all social media platforms using the hashtag #ORAdebate – including the opportunity to have your question to Shami read out in the Sheldonian.
For those of you who are not familiar with Shami’s outstanding work in the field of human rights advocacy, we have put together a few facts about one of the UK’s most inspiring political figures:

Early Life and Education

Shami was born in 1969 in the London Borough of Harrow, to Hindu-Bengali parents whom she has since credited for developing her early interest in civil liberties. As a teenager, she was an active member of the Social Democratic Party, a UK centrist party prioritizing social liberalism which was eventually dissolved in 1988 to form what we now know as the Liberal Democrats. Upon leaving school, Shami went on to study law at the London School of Economics and was called to the bar in 1994.


After a spell working as a barrister for the Home Office, Shami joined the prominent human rights organisation Liberty, which was founded in 1934 as a cross-party advocacy group seeking to protect and defend human dignity. From 2003 to March 2016 she was the organisation’s director, and campaigned vigorously against what the group saw as “excessive” anti-terror measures following 9/11. She became a household name due to her frequent appearances on high-profile radio and TV discussions such as Question Time and the Today programme; in 2007 she commented that “As the Director of Liberty I am a bit like the grim reaper. If you see me everywhere, you know that something pretty awful is happening. Sadly, you have seen too much of me in recent years.”


In recognition of her tireless work in defending human rights and civil liberties, Shami was awarded three honorary doctorates, and is a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College and an Honorary Fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford. She was appointed a CBE in the 2007 Queen’s Birthday Honours, and in 2006 was shortlisted for the “Most Inspiring Political Figure” award.
Shami lives in London with her teenage son, and continues to raise crucial questions regarding the importance of personal liberty both globally and in the UK. Her favourite book is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird which, along with the film 12 Angry Men, first inspired her to become a lawyer.
We look forward to welcoming Shami to Oxford in July to discuss human rights with our students. Follow the conversation by joining our Facebook event, and engage with us on Twitter (@OxfordRoyale) and Instagram (oxfordroyale) with the hashtag #ORAdebate.

Haven’t booked your ORA summer yet? You can apply online!
Image credits: sheldonian