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Imran Khan KC succeeds Sir Nicolas Bratza as Chair of Trustees

After several decades of working with BIHR, Sir Nicolas Bratza, former President of the European Court of Human Rights, is stepping down as Chair of our Board of Trustees. He will be succeeded by current trustee and human rights lawyer Imran Khan KC. Imran is well known for his representation of the family of Stephen Lawrence during the private prosecution, inquest, and public inquiry into Stephen’s murder.

Sir Nicolas is stepping down at a time of strength for BIHR, having secured the Human Rights Act and stopped its repeal. In a piece marking his retirement, he shared his “fervent hope” that the Human Rights Act will “continue to be a beacon for the protection of human rights” in the years to come.

Speaking on his retirement from BIHR’s Board of Trustees, Sir Nicolas said:

“I have been involved with BIHR since the early 1980s, first as a Governor and more recently as Chair and Board member. The organisation remains very close to my heart. I have watched it grow from very small beginnings to its current state where, it is both financially healthy and occupies an important place in the protection of fundamental rights in this country. The fact that, at least for the present, the Human Rights Act has been preserved is in no small measure due to the unfailing work of this outstanding team. Needless to say, my decision to resign is in no sense a reflection on BIHR. On the contrary, the organisation has never been stronger and chairing a wonderful Board has been both a pleasure and an immense privilege. It is an opportune time to step down from the organisation at a time when it is stable, well-managed and supported by an excellent Board of Trustees, with a great team in place to keep focused on delivering our core our mission of supporting positive change through the practical use of our Human Rights Act.”

Speaking on his appointment as Chair, Imran said:

“It is a bittersweet moment to be taking on the Chairing of BIHR’s Board of Trustees, because this means the wonderful Sir Nicolas is resigning. Sir Nicolas is a tough act to follow, I remain in awe of his amazing, peerless work on human rights, and his ability to steer BIHR with effortless calm, despite the often troubled waters we tread here in the UK (and all whilst being a wonderful, warm and kind human being).

I am a lawyer because I wanted to defend those who found it difficult to defend themselves and to hold the state and its institutions to account for their actions and failures. I became a Trustee because BIHR reflected, and was an extension, of that work. It’s not about people sitting around and debating, it’s about how do we change people’s lives for the better using the Human Rights Act, in ways that transform our society. I am a proud advocate of the charity’s sterling work; and it is a crucial time for us. Having seen off the threat to the Human Rights Act in the government’s Bill of Rights Bill, we now have much to do in supporting people, communities and public officials to secure these rights in the everyday ways that make the difference to each of us. It’s no small job, and we remain vigilant to the hostile policy environment. But as a lawyer, whose early experiences of trying to secure justice in the face of significant state failures without the benefit of the Human Rights Act, I know the value of the law for people. Sir Nicolas has set an excellent foundation of the charity, championing our Human Rights Act, one which I intend to continue.”

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