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Essex: Civil rights expert Shami Chakrabarti new Chancellor of Essex University

PUBLISHED: 11:02 02 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:02 02 September 2014

Shami Chakrabarti speaking during filming of Question Time in Ipswich in 2006.  Picture John Kerr.

Shami Chakrabarti speaking during filming of Question Time in Ipswich in 2006. Picture John Kerr.

Civil rights defender Shami Chakrabarti has been announced as the new Chancellor of Essex University.

The director of Liberty, the civil liberties and human rights organisation, she is the first woman to hold the top role at the university.

Ms Chakrabarti, 45, comes into the position as the institution celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Her recent work includes being one of six independent assessors advising Lord Justice Leveson during his inquiry into the press, and she was also chosen as one of only eight Olympic Flag carriers at the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

In 2013 she was listed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and earlier this year she was included in The Sunday Times’ 100 Makers of the 21st Century list.

She was awarded a CBE in 2007, the year after she as given an honorary degree by the university. Ms Chakrabarti also have the 2007 Essex Law Lecture and in 2008 launched the Essex Law Clinic, of which she is a patron.

Essex Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: “Shami Chakrabarti is a tenacious advocate of civil liberties and promoting human rights, prepared to confront injustice and someone who is making the world a better place.

“I am delighted Shami is our fifth Chancellor. She is a shining example of the values the Essex University holds dear and she will be an inspiration for all members of our university community.”

Ms Chakrabarti said: “Essex University has a proud tradition of teaching human rights and respect for the rule of law. I am delighted to be joining this institution that shares so many of the values we hold at Liberty.

“At a time when our freedoms are under increasing attack, we need our young people to be equipped with the tools to defend them.”

She succeeds Lord Phillips of Sudbury, who stood down as Chancellor in July 2013. Ms Chakrabarti will also continue to serve her term of office as Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University for the forthcoming academic year until July 2015.

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