High-profile barrister Amal Clooney has resigned from her recent government role as the UK’s Special Envoy on media freedom. Clooney, who was appointed the unpaid role by Jeremy Hunt in April 2019, has resigned in protest over the UK Government’s plan to breach international law through the internal market bill. She said her position ‘was intended to help promote action that governments could take to ensure that existing international obligations relating to media freedom are enforced in accordance with international law’.
Clooney had originally held back from standing down after the internal market bill details were revealed but said having ‘received no assurance that any change of position is imminent, I have no alternative but to resign from my position’.
She also said: ‘I am disappointed to have to do so because I have always been proud of the UK’s reputation as a champion of the international legal order, and of the culture of fair play for which it is known. However, very sadly, it has now become untenable for me, as special envoy, to urge other states to respect and enforce international obligations while the UK declares that it does not intend to do so itself.’
Clooney’s was not the only resignation that followed the proposed law breach by the UK Government; Jonathan Jones, head of the Government Legal Department and justice minister Lord Keen of Elie have both resigned from their respective positions.
Clooney has gained support from various peers since her resignation. The former Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury who chairs the International Bar Association High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom said in a statement: ‘I support her principled response to the shameful attitude of the UK government to its international treaty obligations in the Internal Markets Bill and in ministerial announcements that it is prepared to break international law.’
Furthermore, the director of the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Helena Kennedy QC, stated: ‘I fully endorse the statements made in Ms Clooney’s letter of resignation and respect her decision to stand down as envoy while maintaining her role on the panel. Members of the panel are appointed on an unpaid basis as a result of their relevant expertise and the panel should complete its current mandate.’