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Masterclass 3: Using the Law for Social Justice and other Utopian Ideals

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Room B33

Birkbeck, University of London

Malet St

London

WC1E 7HX

United Kingdom

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Using the Law for Social Justice and other Utopian Ideals

Speaker: Helena Kennedy QC



In this Masterclass, which is spread over three sessions, Helena Kennedy will use recent cases in which she has been involved, that turn on race, gender and sexuality, to address the question of how the law today does and does not serve the people for whom it is meant to speak, and how the struggle to make it do so can be advanced in the new century.

Helena Kennedy became a lawyer to give voice to the voiceless in the courts. She came from a working class family in Glasgow and knew that the law is hugely intimidating for whole sections of society. She also saw how laws created with men in mind failed women and how stereotypes and myths about race, gender and sexuality permeated the courts to the disadvantage of many. The law for Helena is a social tool which can work to the good or the bad and it is for committed lawyers to ensure that it produces just ends.

This is the third of three sessions that make up this Masterclass. The other sessions are on:

Suggested readings:

Helena Kennedy, Eve was Framed: Women and British Justice (1992) and Just Law (2004)

Helena Kennedy QC has practised at the Bar for 40 years in the field of criminal law and has conducted many of the leading cases in those years, including the Balcombe Street Siege, the Brighton bombing trial, the Guildford Four Appeal, the Michael Bettany Espionage case, the Jihadist fertiliser bomb plot, and the transatlantic bomb plot. She has championed law reform for women, especially relating to sexual and domestic violence and developed the defence of Battered Women's syndrome in the British courts. She has chaired the British Council and the UK Human Genetics Commission. She has been a member of the House of Lords for 18 years, where she sat on the Joint Committee of Human Rights, and is now chair of the European Union Sub Committee. She is chair of Justice and co-chair of the International Bar Association's Institute of Human Rights. She is Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford. She has received 39 honorary doctorates, is an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She has also been honoured by the Governments of France and Italy. She is the chair of the Booker Prize Foundation.

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Room B33

Birkbeck, University of London

Malet St

London

WC1E 7HX

United Kingdom

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