What price liberty? Discussion in Truro this Saturday

Details of an event at Truro College on Saturday 23 January
Jessica Mann
18 January 2010

Last February Jane Turnbull (a literary agent) and myself (a crime novelist) were at the Convention on Modern Liberty in London. The increasing threats to individual freedom hadn’t been a topic of public debate in Cornwall where we both live, so it was a relief to realise that our anxieties were shared by an enormous number of people in this country.

Jane, as a former historian, says she is “well aware of the struggle and process by which, through our ancient statutes, the fortress of our liberties was built. It is impossible to witness the destruction of these without publicity or protest.” My own standpoint is that of the daughter of refugees from Nazi Germany. I have always been proud and grateful that I was born in the Land of the Free.

We are both appalled to see perceived threats eroding our long tradition of liberty. Doing anything we could to raise public awareness seemed a vital task.

So we decided to put on our own local version of the London convention, in the belief that our civil liberties should be of concern to everyone in Cornwall, an area with a history of dissent and of rebellion and a long tradition of individualism and self-determination. The Cornish simply need to realise how much has changed and to what extent we can no longer take long-established rights for granted.

The speakers are demonstrating their own concern about Civil Liberties, some by travelling 300 miles each way, in midwinter, to address our gathering. They include Katharine Whitehorn, Henry Porter, the Chief Constable for Devon & Cornwall, Ursula Owen and the historian Frederick Taylor. Proceedings will be chaired by Kate Adie. We’re expecting an interesting, illuminating day. But it’s a pity, perhaps even a tragedy, that we need it. 

Details of the event

What Price Liberty?
A day to discuss our freedom, privacy and rights

Kate Adie – broadcaster and author

Oliver Baines – environmental campaigner
Stephen Otter – Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall
Ursula Owen – campaigner for free speech
Henry Porter – journalist, campaigner and novelist
Frederick Taylor - best selling historian of WW2
Katherine Whitehorn – columnist and broadcaster

All are welcome to join the audience and contribute to the discussion, along with members of Cornwall Council, political activists and candidates, students and anyone else who cares about civil liberty.

There will also be a scripted reading by Ice and Fire, a theatre company that explores human rights issues through performance. ‘Binyam’s Story’ is an excerpt from the play The Rendition Monologues by Christine Bacon.

Saturday 23 January
Truro College, College Road, Truro, Cornwall
10.00am - 4.30 pm

Registration from 9am with refreshments
Post event reception with tea and cakes from 4.30pm-5.30pm.

Further information from Tanja Durrant on 01872 267525

Tickets £7 (concessions £5) including morning coffee and lunch and are available to purchase from

Hall for Cornwall, Lemon Quay, Truro, Cornwall 01872 262466

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