Definitions

pressure-group

interest group

or pressure group

any association of individuals or organizations, usually formally organized, that, on the basis of one or more shared concerns, attempts to influence public policy in its favour. All interest groups share a desire to affect government policy to benefit themselves or their cause. It could be a policy that exclusively benefits group members or one segment of society (e.g., government subsidies for farmers) or a policy that advances a broader public purpose (e.g., improving air quality). Interest groups are a natural outgrowth of the communities of interests that exist in all societies, from the narrowest groups such as the Japan Eraser Manufacturers Association to broader groups such as the AFL-CIO to very broad organizations such as the military in authoritarian countries. Interest groups exist at all levels of government—national, state, provincial, and local—and increasingly they have occupied an important role in international affairs.

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Liberty is a pressure group based in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1934 by Ronald Kidd and Sylvia Crowther-Smith (later Scaffardi), it campaigns to protect civil liberties and promote human rights. In some cases Liberty also provides legal representation for people where it considers that rights have been breached.

The immediate spur to its formation was the 1934 Incitement to Disaffection Act. The first Secretary was Ronald Kidd, and first President E. M. Forster; Vice-Presidents were the politician and author A. P. Herbert and the journalist Kingsley Martin of the New Statesman. Its current director is Shami Chakrabarti.

Liberty was adopted as the working name of the The National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL). This title had been used earlier, in World War I, for an organisation founded as the National Council Against Conscription, which changed its name in 1916. This former organisation may not have lasted longer than until about 1918, and no connection can be assumed.

The structure of Liberty comprises three organisations:

  • Liberty - an unincorporated association
    • This is the member-based organisation which individuals can join.
  • Liberty - the company
    • This is the company that employs Liberty staff, leases buildings, etc
  • The Civil Liberties Trust
    • This is a company and a charity, independent of Liberty

In 2003 the post of Liberty Director was taken up by Shami Chakrabarti.

Recently, Liberty acted for the whistleblower Katharine Gun who claimed that the American National Security Agency had requested the British Government's help in illegal surveillance on the UN. She was prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. The charges were dropped when the prosecution failed to offer any evidence.

Liberty is a supporter of the NO2ID coalition.

The Main isues that Liberty represent in the UK at the moment are:

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