We are grateful to our esteemed speakers for lending their time to this important cause and event.
Born in Manchester to Ghanaian parents, Henry Bonsu is a leading British African broadcaster. A Modern Languages (German and French) graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford, he has worked on some of the UK’s biggest current affairs shows both for BBC News and on satellite TV channels like Vox Africa and BET International. He has also been an analyst on Sky News, Al Jazeera, MSNBC and TRT World. Henry is also an international moderator and Master of Ceremonies, working for UN bodies such as the UNDP, UN Global Compact, the WHO and UNFCCC, plus other multilateral agencies like the African Union and Global Partnership for Education. As well as development events, Henry hosts major business gatherings like the African Banker Awards, African Business Awards, and the Global African Investment Summit. His corporate clients include Maersk, KPMG, Amaris and Cartier International, for whom he has facilitated gatherings on key issues ranging from diversity to sustainability.
Session One: Girls
(10.00 – 11.00)
The Rt Hon The Baroness Hale of Richmond
President of the Supreme Court (2017-20)
Brenda Hale retired as President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the UK’s most senior judge, in January 2020.
After teaching law at the University of Manchester for 18 years (while also practising for a short time at the Manchester Bar), then promoting the reform of the law at the Law Commission for over nine years, she became a Judge in the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales in 1994. In 1999 she was appointed to the Court of Appeal and in 2004 became the first and only woman Law Lord – that is, a member of the appellate committee of the House of Lords. In 2009, the Law Lords became the Justices of the Supreme Court, and she became its first woman Justice, Deputy President in 2013 and President in 2017.
She is also President of the United Kingdom Association of Women Judges and a past President of the International Association of Women Judges. She has enjoyed working in all fields of the law, but her principal interests remain in family, welfare and equality law.
Spokesperson for girls who get caught up in crime
Saffron is an advocate on behalf of young women who get caught up in the criminal justice system. She is dedicated to changing attitudes and improving understanding and is a committed supporter of justice reform.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC
Doughty Street Chambers
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC is one of Britain’s most distinguished lawyers. She has spent her professional life giving voice to those who have least power within the system, championing civil liberties and promoting human rights. She has conducted many prominent cases of terrorism, official secrets and homicide. She is the founding force behind the establishment of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford. In 1997, she was elevated to the House of Lords where she is a Labour peer. She has published two books on how the justice system is failing women, and has written and broadcasted on many issues over the years. Currently, she has taken on the role of Director to the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute. She directs the Institute’s work upholding the rule of law and human rights globally.
Leigh-Anne Rodriguez is Abianda’s Senior Practitioner on Rescue and Response – a service for young Londoners affected by county lines, delivered by Abianda, St Giles Trust, and Safer London.
Leigh-Anne manages a team who deliver one-to-one services across all 32 London boroughs, with a focus on rights-based advocacy and multi-agency support for young women facing extreme exploitation and complex vulnerabilities.
Leigh-Anne has nine years’ experience of working as a youth worker with marginalised young people. She is a specialist in working around street culture; youth and gang violence; and girls and young women affected by all forms of violence. She is also a highly experienced trainer, having delivered seminars and courses across the UK.
With her lived experience and professional expertise, Leigh-Anne brings a wealth of understanding and knowledge around how to best support young women facing youth violence, and how we can bring about the system’s change to ensure their needs are met.
Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Chair
Doughty Street Chambers
Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in human rights, and she co-leads the Children’s Rights Group with Professor Aoife Nolan. The rights of women and girls is an area of particular interest for Caoilfhionn. She has acted in leading cases on these issues before the UK and Strasbourg courts, including A v UK (2020) (discriminatory impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ on a victim of life-threatening domestic violence); R (WB and W) v Secretary of State for Justice  EWHC 1696 (Admin) (violation of Article 8 by refusing a place in a prison Mother and Baby Unit); and a series of cases concerning the almost total ban on abortion in Northern Ireland, including R (A and B) v Secretary of State for Health  UKSC 41 and Re Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission  UKSC 27. Before UN bodies and international courts, she often brings challenges concerning the rights of women journalists and human rights defenders. She acts for the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Maltese journalist assassinated in October 2017; Maria Ressa, the award-winning journalist targeted by the authorities in the Philippines for her work; and she has recently given expert evidence on women’s rights to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. She sits part-time as an Assistant Coroner and she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Session Two: Race
(11.10 – 12.10)
Rt Hon David Lammy MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor
Doughty Street Chambers
David Lammy is the Labour Member of Parliament for Tottenham, England, where he was born and raised. After being elected for the seventh time in December 2019, he was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Justice. As part of this role, Lammy built on his landmark review of the criminal justice system, which explored the treatment of and outcomes for Black and minority ethnic people in British courts and prisons. The review included 35 wide-ranging policy recommendations for the government and criminal justice sectors.
Lammy’s parents arrived in the UK from Guyana as part of the over half a million people who moved from the Caribbean to Britain in the 1970s, known as the Windrush generation. He is renowned for his role in securing justice for those victims of the Windrush Scandal as well as victims of London’s Grenfell Tower Fire, and has successfully campaigned for Oxford and Cambridge University to improve fair access for students from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. He won both GQ’s and the Political Studies Association’s Politician of the Year in 2018. He is also known for spearheading the fight against Brexit, pushing for more equal access to university and demanding the decolonization of education curriculums and international aid. Lammy explores these issues and more in Tribes, his book on both the benign and malign effects of our very human need to belong. He is an Associate Tenant Barrister at the preeminent Doughty Street Chambers and a Visiting Professor in Practice at London School of Economics, Department of Law.
MBA candidate; exonerated from death row, USA
Ryan Matthews spent five years on Louisiana’s death row for a crime he did not commit. Seventeen years old at the time he was arrested, Ryan was sentenced to death for the shooting death of Tommy Vanhoose, a convenience store owner. DNA testing results after his conviction revealed the identity of the actual perpetrator.
In 2019, Matthews graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a bachelor’s degree in applied arts and sciences. Matthews, who is married to Candace, with whom he has 3 children, now lives in Texas along with his mother Pauline and sister Monique who were constant advocates for his exoneration.
In a 6 February 2020 op-ed in The Advocate in which he describes his time on death row, Matthews lends his voice to opening doors for others as well. ‘Louisiana has one of the highest rates of wrongful conviction and of wrongly sentencing people to death in the country’, he writes. ‘We’ve exonerated more men from death row than we’ve executed in the last 20 years. Some people say that means our justice system works. It does not. I was only exonerated by the grace of God and my dedicated legal team. I guarantee there are still innocent men on death row who have not had my good luck.’
The 4Front Project
Temi Mwale is a racial justice campaigner and the Founding Director of The 4Front Project, a member-led youth organisation empowering young people to fight for justice, peace and freedom. They support the young people most harmed by violence and the criminal justice system to be at the forefront of a grassroots movement for change. The 4Front Project’s approach centres healing and transformative justice, whilst directly challenging the UK’s addiction to criminalisation, policing and prisons.
Dr William Lez Henry (PhD) FHEA
University of West London
William Lez Henry is Professor of Criminology and Sociology in the School of Human and Social Sciences at University of West London. His areas of expertise are criminology, sociology, anthropology, race, education, ethnicity, youth crime and cultural studies, and he has published extensively on these topics. Dr Henry is a Social Anthropologist, researcher, consultant and staff trainer for Nu-Beyond Ltd: Learning By Choice! In addition to his academic career, Dr Henry is Deejay Lezlee Lyrix, one of the pioneer British reggae-dancehall deejays, as well as a writer, poet and community activist.
Garry Green, Chair
Doughty Street Chambers
Garry Green is a criminal defence barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and a member of the YJLC Advisory Board. His practice is made up of serious crime, especially high-profile homicide cases. Garry is passionate about the welfare and potential of young people who are, or are at risk of becoming, marginalised. He is a trustee of a number of mentoring charities and offers advice to an array of voluntary grassroots organisations.
Session Three: Class
(12.20 – 13.00)
Professor Emerita Geraldine Van Bueren QC
Queen Mary, University of London
Professor Emerita Geraldine Van Bueren QC is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford, and an honorary Queen’s Counsel in recognition of her scholastic contributions to national and international law. Professor Van Bueren is one of the original drafters of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and also helped draft the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, the UNHCR Guidelines on Refugee Children and the United Nations Programme of Action on Children in the Criminal Justice System. She headed a UNESCO project Law’s Duty to the Poor and founded the Association of Working Class Academics. She is writing Class and Law (Hart), and, together with Angelina Jolie, Know Your Rights and Claim Them for Amnesty International.
Director and animator
Renaldho Pelle is a London-based film director, illustrator, and animator, and director of the 2020 animated short The Fire Next Time, which looks at the impact of social inequality on the 2011 London riots. The film has been long listed for the short film BAFTA and was selected for the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, the only UK animated short to be included this year.
Garden Court Chambers
Joanne Cecil is a barrister at Garden Court Chambers. She has a mixed public law and criminal practice, with particular expertise in child rights and youth justice. She has a wealth of experience in representing children and is renowned for having been instructed in many test cases relating to children in the criminal justice system which have resulted in significant changes in the law. Joanne was instrumental in the fight against the use of the death penalty for under-18s in the US which culminated in the case of Roper v Simmons which abolished the death penalty for those who were juveniles at the time they committed an offence.
Most recently, she was instructed by Just for Kids Law in the important intermediaries case of R v TI in which the High Court quashed a District Judge’s decision not to grant an intermediary to a 14 year old boy with learning difficulties facing trial in the youth court. Joanne is a board member at both Just for Kids Law and the Alliance for Youth Justice.
Greg Stewart, Chair
GT Stewart Solicitors
Greg is a director at GT Stewart Limited in London which is a national group of law firms including GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates, FMW Law and McGrath & Co. He is a former youth justice representative on the Law Society Criminal Law Committee and he co-authors the Criminal Appeals Handbook (2nd Edition Bloomsbury, 2019).
Session Four: Kids
(14.00 – 15.00)
Professor Ann Skelton
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; University of Pretoria, South Africa
Ann Skelton is a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and was the Chairperson of the Advisory Board for the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty. She has worked as a children’s rights lawyer in South Africa for 30 years. She chaired the SA Law Reform Committee that drafted the Child Justice Act (2008) and led a UN technical assistance project to prepare its implementation. Ann was the Director of the Centre for Child Law until 2018, and she has argued many landmark cases in the Constitutional Court. Ann is currently a Professor of Law at the University of Pretoria.
Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore
University of Cambridge
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is a professor of psychology and cognitive neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and runs a lab that studies the development of the adolescent brain. Sarah-Jayne has won multiple awards for her research and for her recent book, Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain.
Kingsley Napley LLP
Sandra Paul is a partner at the law firm Kingsley Napley and a member of the YJLC Advisory Board. Sandra is particularly experienced with navigating children and young adults safely through the youth justice system. Her practice spans the full range of criminal ligation, but the majority of her work concerns defending allegations of sexual misconduct.
Sandra chaired JUSTICE’s working party: Tackling Racial Injustice: Children and the Youth Justice System. The report, launched in February 2021, makes recommendations to tackle the overrepresentation of BAME children in the youth justice system. Sandra co-authors the bi-annual Police Station Update for Legal Action and ‘Defending Suspects at the Police station’, the police station handbook.
Juvenile Law Center, USA
Marsha Levick is co-counsel and Chief Legal Officer of Juvenile Law Center, the oldest public interest law firm for children in the United States. Marsha is a nationally recognized leader in juvenile law and has been an advocate for children’s and women’s rights for more than 45 years. She has written many influential briefs before the US Supreme Court and other federal and state courts, including Roper V Simmons which abolished the death penalty for those who were juveniles at the time they committed an offence.
Shauneen Lambe, Chair
Impact Law for Social Justice
Shauneen Lambe is Director of Impact Law for Social Justice. She is co-founder and former CEO of Just for Kids Law (2005-2018), where she set up the Youth Justice Legal Centre in 2014 and now serves on the YJLC Advisory Board. A barrister in the UK and a practicing attorney in the USA where she helped Clive Stafford Smith set up Reprieve. Shauneen is a legal innovator dedicated to the law being a tool for social change and enjoys supporting ground-breaking social justice projects which she does through Impact and by supporting Justice First Fellows.
She is vice-chair of the Barings Foundation, a trustee of the Centre for Justice Innovation and on the advisory board of University of Liverpool Law Clinic.
Session Five: Fear
(15.10 – 16.10)
Professor Kristin Nicole Henning
Georgetown University, USA
Kristin Henning is the Blume Professor of Law and Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic at Georgetown Law. Kris was previously the Lead Attorney for the Juvenile Unit of the D.C. Public Defender Service and is currently the Director of the Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center. Kris has been representing children accused of delinquency for more than 25 years and trains attorneys and court officials to identify and challenge racial injustice in the juvenile legal system. Kris writes extensively about race, adolescence, and policing and has a book, The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth, forthcoming later this year (2021).
Social justice advocate and Father of Jack Merritt
Dave Merritt is the father of social justice advocate Jack Merritt, who was killed in the London Bridge terror attack on 29 November 2019. Dave is an outspoken advocate for social justice reform.
Rosca Onya is a rap artist and songwriter. A child refugee fleeing conflict in his native Democratic Republic of Congo, he travelled through three different countries before arriving in England at the age of nine. At the age of 18 Rosca got involved in crime and was given an indeterminate sentence for public protection and served nine years. Rosca completed a course in Criminology at Cambridge University. One year on from the killing of social justice advocate Jack Merritt, Rosca launched ‘Jack’, a memorial rap single in honour of his close friend Jack, whom he met through Cambridge University’s ‘Learning Together’ programme.
Hossein Zahir QC
Garden Court Chambers
Hossein Zahir QC specialises in criminal defence work as a member of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team. He has acted as lead defence counsel in some of the most high-profile criminal and terrorist trials in recent times. He is recognised as a leading individual in both Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500. Formerly as a solicitor and now as a barrister, he has represented defendants charged with murder, drug trafficking, fraud, money laundering and other serious crimes. Prior to coming to the law, Hossein worked for the Newham Monitoring Project, a community organisation in East London committed to supporting and campaigning on behalf of victims of racial harassment.
Aika Stephenson, Chair
Just for Kids Law
Aika Stephenson is Legal Director and Co-founder of Just for Kids Law. Aika is a youth justice specialist with years of experience representing young people in criminal proceedings, particularly those with Special Educational Needs. Since April 2017, she has led the organisation’s criminal work after Just for Kids Law was awarded its first criminal legal aid contract. In 2018, Aika was named Criminal Defence Lawyer of the Year in recognition of her ground-breaking work in youth justice, thereby becoming the first individual to be awarded with two LALY awards.