The film Taking Liberties is an exceptional insight into the erosion of our civil liberties during the last ten years of Blair’s New Labour government. British film maker Chris Atkins’ socio-documentary explores how the War on Terror has fundamentally changed both our liberties and our freedoms. How the destruction caused by 9/11 and 7/7 has had greater ramifications for our basic rights and freedoms that we could ever have expected. It questions whether the government has gone too far in its legislation to protect citizens against terrorism at the expense of our basic civil liberties.
New laws having been passed that have restricted our freedom in ways that were not even considered in wartime.
The power to imprison for peaceful protest (2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act); the 2005 Prevention of Terrorism Act has given the Home Secretary the power to place any British citizen under house arrest based only on a “reasonable suspicion” and the power of the police to issue fixed penalty notices for dozens of different crimes, which allows the police to decide guilt on the spot.
In researching the film they have sourced quotations from leading lawyers including Michael Mansfield QC, Philippe Sands QC and Shami Chakrabarti together with Boris Johnson and Tony Benn, politicians from both sides of the spectrum. The consensus being that the government has gone too far in breaching the six central pillars of our civil liberties: the Right to Protest, the Right to Freedom of Speech, the Right to Privacy, the Right to be detained without charge, that one is Innocent Until Proven Guilty and the Prohibition from Torture. Taking Liberties mixes shocking footage with moments of incredulous humour.
Genuine tales of an RAF war veteran arrested for wearing an anti-Blair and Bush T-shirt; a man held under house arrest for two years, after being found innocent in court and two teenage sisters detained for 36 hours for a peaceful protest.
There are genuine moments in the movie when you just shake your head or shout “No” at the cinema “this can’t be happening! Not in Britain?” But it is.
This film raises real issues as to what we as lawyers, or perhaps as mere citizens want to do and have to do to protect our freedoms. Or whether apathy rules?
It is not pro Tory or anti New Labour – just a pro human rights piece.
This film will challenge and energise you into doing something – anything – to make a difference. If you see one film this summer make sure it this one!
In Cinemas nationwide June 8 – www.noliberties.com
Taking Liberties since 1997 is written by Chris Atkins, Sarah Bee and Fiona Button and is published by Revolver books and available from all good bookshops for the price of £7.99 ISBN 978-1-905978-03-8