“To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice”

 On the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta, Stephen Bowen, Director of the British Institute of Human Rights, says:

“For centuries, Magna Carta has stood for the idea that government power is subject to the rule of law. Today, the most fitting tribute to Magna Carta would be for the government to scrap its plans to scrap our Human Rights Act, which protects us all from the power of the state. That would truly demonstrate that the legacy of Magna Carta is not simply legend but lives on here at home.”

On 15 June 1215, King John met with his rebellious Barons at Runnymede and sealed Magna Carta. A “political solution to a political problem”, this medieval document is important not for what it says, but for what it inspires and for what it symbolizes – that no government is above the law, that all people have basic freedoms and rights.

Whether a medieval monarch or a modern democracy, those who rule rarely welcome curbs on their power, but as today’s celebrations remind us both Magna Carta and the Human Rights Act are for the protection of people, not the convenience of governments.

If the legacy of Magna Carta is to be truly honoured, our Government must not view it in a vacuum but rather celebrate the journey on which it has taken our country, and the world, in recognising universal human rights, today protected by our Human Rights Act.

A Government that stands firm on the modern law protecting every one of us from poor treatment by public officials, that would truly demonstrate the legacy of Magna Carta is not simply legend but lives on here at home. Our Human Rights Act: protect what protects us all.

For a BIHR spokesperson please contact Woody on 0207 882 5750

BIHR’s Director, Stephen Bowen, will be delivering the final lecture of the Alexander Centre Series as part of the Faversham Magna 800 Celebrations. The lecture takes place on 25 June and further information can be found here.

For information on how the Human Rights Act has helped protect people from poor treatment by public officials see the examples on our website, including:
  • Making our democracy work: Using the Human Rights Act to protect the right to peaceful protest and prevent inappropriate stop and search
  • Getting justice for a war veteran unlawfully detained by the council
  • Ensuring accountability when older people can't speak up for themselves
  • Making sure people with mental health problems are not being unlawfully detained
  • Protecting the right to respect for private life of a learning disabled couple