‘How do we Protect Liberty without a Bill of Rights - Lessons from the Cold War’
by Professor Keith Ewing, Professor of Public Law, King’s College, London
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 at 5pm
Lecture Theatre 7, Rendall Building
Human Rights and International Law Unit
School of Law and Social Justice
University of Liverpool
Recent revelations about MI5 surveillance of academics raise serious questions about the application of constitutional values during the Cold War. In fact, it was the tip of the iceberg, with tens if not hundreds of thousands of British citizens under surveillance by the State. How was this allowed to happen in a liberal democracy? Conversely, the Communist Party was not banned in the United Kingdom, unlike in the United States where constitutional values were legally embedded. Indeed, in the post war era there was a strong commitment at the highest levels of British government to constitutional values such as freedom of expression and freedom of association in a country without a Bill of Rights. What explains these extraordinary contradictions? How was it possible by political means to protect political liberty in a system where judges perceived their role to be one of facilitating the process of government? What were the relative strengths and weaknesses of these political protections of constitutional values, and why did they fail so spectacularly in the case of surveillance?
A wine reception will follow the event.