Liberty Investigates is an editorially independent team of journalists, investigating rights violations in the UK. We are part of Liberty, an independent membership organisation focused on human rights. We aim to use our journalism to uncover injustice, hold the powerful to account and to empower others through the evidence we assemble to defend their own rights and those of their family, friends and communities.
Letter from Liberty’s director
Liberty was founded in 1934 in response to the brutal policing of peaceful protestors. Our founders – HG Wells, EM Forster, Clement Attlee and Vera Brittain among them – pledged to stand vigil against abuses of power. Over the decades we’ve fought fascism, championed free speech, demanded equality and challenged intolerance, unfairness and injustice.
Liberty has been standing up to power for nearly a century and our work is as vital now as it has ever been.
I became the Director of Liberty in 2016. Since then the world has changed dramatically. We face profound threats to our rights and freedoms: technology heralds intrusive mass surveillance, populism denies minority rights, polarisation undermines community cohesion and misinformation undermines accountability and inequalities deepen.
In the past few weeks these threats to our rights have become ever more acute as the coronavirus has plunged us into a public health crisis on a previously unimaginable scale. In the UK, we now face the greatest restrictions on freedom in a generation.
Liberty has been standing up to power for nearly a century and our work is as vital now as it has ever been. We fight for progress in Parliament, in the courts, in the streets and in the press.
Throughout its history Liberty has worked with journalists to uncover stories that shine a light on the injustices in our society. Dramatic changes in the media landscape have changed how news is reported and investigative journalism has had to work hard to keep its footing. With each year, new threats emerge.
And so the idea for Liberty Investigates was born. An editorially independent unit of journalists working to expose injustice. Liberty Investigates shares Liberty’s mission and values. It is committed to working in the public interest to tell the truth about rights abuses in the UK. Like Liberty, our investigative unit is guided by evidence and expertise, not political agenda, profit or popular opinion.
Our journalists are not afraid to reveal uncomfortable truths, injustice or the abuse of power. The crisis created by the coronavirus makes these values more important than ever, and we have changed the focus of the unit’s investigations to reflect this.
Journalism is the key to holding the powerful to account and I am proud to add more resource to this vital mechanism of our democracy.
Letter from the Liberty Investigates team
We set up Liberty Investigates in autumn 2019, creating a non-profit newsroom to report on human rights concerns in the UK. We will publish our journalism on the Liberty Investigates website, and also, where relevant, in publishing partnerships with other news organisations to help our reporting gain a wider audience.
We are editorially independent of Liberty but are sensible of Liberty’s proud history defending human rights in the UK and further afield. We want our journalism, once published, to be part of Liberty’s toolbox to change institutions, laws and poor practice in the private sphere, all of which may infringe our rights.
We have a simple mission – to expose injustice. We want to hold those responsible to account. We also want to amplify the voices of those affected – to carry out our reporting on their behalf, but never to see them as voiceless. Instead, we want to position ourselves alongside those affected. We also want to work with people who care about human rights violations, including Liberty members. Our journalism should provide evidence for campaigners to challenge those in power.
We will be fair in all our practices, using the tools of investigative journalism, offering right to replies, fact-checking thoroughly, and reporting deeply with a variety of storytelling techniques. We will collaborate with partners on a Creative Commons basis so that larger audiences can be reached.
Human rights journalism is about everything from reporting on genocide in the international sphere to smaller, more intimate wrongs, such as what happens in the everyday lives of people of colour, disabled people, or communities segregated due to prejudice and discrimination, such as Roma people. Our journalism should be fleet of foot too – so to start with, we will focus our reporting on how rights in the UK stand to be affected by Coronavirus.
We are mindful that we are funded to carry out journalism in the public interest and can spend time on long-term investigations that are important and can right wrongs. We can also use all our capacity to focus on an emerging threat, such as a pandemic, look at it through the lens of human rights journalism and warn of concerns. Whatever we work on, we will bear witness to the stories of those affected, demonstrate systemic failures and hold power to account.
From Katharine, Eleanor and Mirren.