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'Toxic' and 'hysterical' immigration debate explored in Liberty event at St Paul's

The public debate on immigration in the UK has been put under the microscope at an event hosted by Liberty at St Paul's.

The event on Wednesday 10 September, entitled Rubbing Along Together, saw a number of people with unique views on immigration speak about the topic which Liberty describes as a 'toxic one, fuelled by increasingly hysterical headlines and divisive dog-whistle politics'.

Taking part were:

Stephanie Harrison QC, who has dedicated her career to fighting against discrimination and for the fundamental freedoms of minorities and the marginalised.

Meltem Avcil, who was detained in Yarlswood detention centre with her mother for three months in 2007, aged 13.

Jonathan Portes, the Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and a former Chief Economist at the Cabinet Office.

The Right Reverend David Walker, Bishop of Manchester.

In the Chair was the Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti. Liberty celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, having originally been founded in the crypt of St Martin’s in the Fields church.

The conversation explored a wide range of topics including the language with which immigration issues are currently expressed, the realities of UK detention centres and the need to scrutinise some of the arguments about immigration that are too readily made and taken for granted.

In his introduction to the evening the Chancellor of St Paul’s, The Reverend Canon Mark Oakley said: "This is a conversation to help us distil truth from the chaotic chemistry that currently makes up public debate on immigration. Those who believe in civil liberties have a vocation to provide true information from a fearless perspective as well as clear arguments for human formation, based on equal and universal human dignity. In many ways these are dark days but we musn’t let a crisis go to waste."