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Thursday 9 October 2014, David Bowden

New podcast: do we need a British Bill of Rights?

Listen to the Battle Satellite discussion.

On Monday evening, the Battle of Ideas hosted a highly topical satellite, titled ‘From Magna Carta to ECHR: do we need a British Bill of Rights?’ Taking place only days after the Conservative Party had unveiled its plans to replace the Human Rights Act with its own equivalent, the debate saw a top panel of lawyers and legal commentators gather in front of a packed audience at Foyles’ flagship Charing Cross Road store to debate the tension between universal human rights, democracy and national sovereignty.

Claire Fox, chairing the debate on the evening, urged the panel in her introduction to attempt to move beyond the hyperbole on both sides of the human-rights debate between ‘civilisation and barbarism’ into a broader question of what rights are and what function they should serve. It was a theme picked up by barrister Jon Holbrook on the panel, who declared himself a critic of the human-rights framework but that ‘doesn’t mean I’m arguing for torture.’

The panel featured: Jon Holbrook (barrister and writer on legal issues for spiked and the New Law Journal); Martin Howe QC (barrister; member, Commission on A Bill of Rights); Helen Mountfield QC (barrister, Matrix Chambers, London; trustee, Equal Rights Trust); Rupert Myers (barrister and writer) and Adam Wagner (barrister, 1 Crown Office Row).

A lively and thoughtful panel discussion was followed by fantastically engaging contributions from the floor, with audience questions touching upon the problems of judicial activism in Chile and US, the role of law in determining morality, and whether human rights can be a barrier to democratic engagement.

You can listen to a podcast of the debate here.

The debate was also a great start to a whole strand of debates on Legal Challenges taking place at the Battle of Ideas at the Barbican on 18 October. Information and tickets are available here.

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