New website launch gives added gloss to Human Rights event

10 Dec

A special event with two eminent legal figures from either side of the Border was given added gloss by an announcement of a new website for the Faculty’s Human Rights and Rule of Law Committee.

Sir Stephen Sedley, QC, and Lord Hamilton were brought together by the Faculty and JUSTICE Scotland to share views on Freedom of Expression, in a celebration of Human Rights Day and European Lawyers Day.

Their presentations were described as “inspiring” by Dorothy Bain, QC, Chair of JUSTICE Scotland, who said it had been a “great privilege” to hear them. 

Fittingly, the HRROL Committee used Human Rights Day and the event for the formal launch of its website

The Committee is chaired by Ms Bain and she told the audience in the Laigh Hall that the Committee wanted to encourage all those with an interest in human rights and the rule of law to contribute to the website.

“We really hope this will become an important tool in the work we, as members of Faculty, do in the sphere of human rights and the rule of law,” she added.

Freedom of expression had been identified by the Council of European Bars and Law Societies as the topic for this year’s European Lawyers Day, and the Faculty and JUSTICE Scotland were delighted that Sir Stephen and Lord Hamilton agreed to speak at their event.

Sir Stephen was a judge of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court from 1992 until 1999, when he was made a Lord Justice of Appeal in the Court of Appeal. He retired in 2011.

He said the invitation to speak at the event had made him “do some hard thinking about what we mean by freedom of expression.”

He added: “I have argued in the past and still think that censorship is a pit with no bottom…one generation’s heresy is often the next generation’s orthodoxy.”

Lord Hamilton was appointed a Senator in 1995 and his elevation to the Inner House in 2002 was followed, in 2005, by his appointment as Lord President and Lord Justice General, holding the posts until 2012.

He explored the challenges created by the expansion of social media and digital technology.

“This has given rise to fresh challenges in the field of freedom of expression…and raises many interesting and, as yet, judicially unresolved issues,” he suggested.