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City celebration of civil liberties

Published on Wednesday, 25th February 2015

The Sheriff of Norwich, William Armstrong, will lead the city in its plans to celebrate liberty and justice, marking the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary.

A series of lectures has been organised by Norwich City Council, in association with the Norfolk and Norwich Law Society and Norfolk Community Law Service, to provide a fascinating insight into the historical document.

The Magna Carta is one of the most famous documents in the world and established for the first time the principle that everybody, including those in power, was subject to the law. The sovereignty of Parliament and the right to jury are also significant principles rooted in the document.

William Armstrong said: “The fundamental messages of Magna Carta are that no-one is above the law and everyone is entitled to justice.

Although sealed in an age very different from our own, its principles continue to have relevance and it remains a symbol of our liberties and rights.

The reduction in the availability of legal aid, plans to substantially increase court fees and proposals to restrict judicial review need to be examined in the light of what took place on the banks of the Thames eight hundred years ago.”

Councillor Alan Waters, Norwich City Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for resources said: “It’s really important to celebrate this anniversary, not just in a bid to preserve our history but also for its relevance to us today. The Magna Carta is the basis of our fundamental civil liberties; some of which are currently under threat.”

The first lecture, arranged by the Sheriff in conjunction with the Junior Lawyers Division of the Norfolk and Norwich Law Society, is to be given by Stephen Bowen, director of British Institute of Human Rights, at 7.30pm on Tuesday 3 March 2015, at City Hall.  The title is “From Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights 1998; Why your Human Rights Act needs You”.

On Monday the 16 March 2015 from 6pm, also at City Hall, the Sheriff is to chair a lecture entitled “Magna Carta 1215-2015 The Norfolk Connection” to be delivered by Professor Nicholas Vincent, professor of medieval history at the University of East Anglia and leader of a major research project on Magna Carta.

Further lectures are to be held in May and June. For more information on the whole series of lectures visit