the alternative



13th June


Free Word presents an afternoon of freedoms, literature, Britishness, arts, protest, digital rights and more across three venues in Clerkenwell, London on 13th June.

Full programme. Speakers include:

Paul Mason


Paul is Economics Editor at Channel 4 News and spent the first ten years of his working life as a professional musicologist before switching to journalism. He has been twice shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, won the Wincott Award for Business Journalism in 2003, the Diageo African Business Reporting Award in 2007, and was named the Royal Television Society's specialist reporter of the year in 2012. His books include Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere and the novel, Rare Earth, set in China. Paul covers culture, our digital life and the social and political controversies they generate.

Zoe Williams


Zoe Williams writes comment pieces, interviews and reviews. She is best known as a Guardian columnist, but her work has also appeared in the Spectator, NOW magazine, the New Statesman and the Evening Standard. She is the author of numerous books on parenting, and her latest book is Get it Together: Why We Deserve Better Politics.

Suzanne Moore


Suzanne is an award-winning columnist for the Guardian. During her career she has written for Marxism Today, The Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, The Independent, The Guardian, and the New Statesman.

Padraig Reidy


Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms. He is Director of Editorial at 89up and has written and ghostwritten for The Evening Standard, The Guardian, The Observer, The Irish Times, The Daily Telegraph, The New Statesman, The Sun, and The Irish Post.

Dawn Foster


Dawn Foster is a London-based freelance journalist, writing on politics, social affairs, education and economics. Dawn writes a monthly column for the Guardian.

Rhian E. Jones


Rhian E Jones writes fiction and non-fiction about history, politics, popular culture and the places where they intersect. Wrote Clampdown: Pop-Cultural Wars on Class and Gender. Co-editor at New Left Project. Works in Soho as a shop assistant. Is Welsh.

Jamie Bartlett


Jamie is Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media and Head of the Violence and Extremism Programme at Demos. An expert on research methodology, Jamie is the author of more than 20 Demos pamphlets. He advises a number of international government agencies and related groups in relation to terrorism and extremism, and is a frequent commentator in national and international media.

Andrew Mueller


Andrew is a Contributing Editor at Monocle, and broadcasts regularly on its radio arm, Monocle 24. He also writes for The Guardian, Uncut, New Humanist and Bluffers, among other titles, and has reported from more than 80 countries. He is previously the author of "Rock & Hard Places" and "I Wouldn't Start From Here", and was partially responsible - in cahoots with Luke Haines and Cathal Coughlan - for the acclaimed 2012 musical historiography "The North Sea Scrolls". His country band, The Blazing Zoos, will release their second album in 2015.

Niamh Shields


Niamh is a food writer, and one of the UK’s best known food bloggers. Her blog is a foodie’s delight, featuring original recipes inspired by her travels and some of her favourites from cook books, with plenty of gratuitous “food porn” photos.

Ted Vallance


Ted studied history at Balliol College, Oxford where he completed a doctorate on oaths of allegiance in seventeenth-century England. In 2000 he was appointed De Velling Willis Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield. Since then he has taught at the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool. In September 2009 he joined Roehampton as Reader in Early Modern History.

Farzana Khan


Farzana works at Platform London and is Shake's co-ordinator. She has a background in youth work and community development and has committed her professional work and academic studies to issues of social justice, human rights, transformative education and environmental justice. Farzana is passionate about challenging power and privilege dynamics.

Rachel Long


Rachel was shortlisted for Young Poet Laureate for London 2014. Her poems have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines, including The Emma Press and Magma. She is a current poetry awardee on the prestigious Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship Scheme (2015-16). Rachel has facilitated poetry workshops in schools, libraries, and for organizations such as Apples & Snakes and Crisis at Christmas. She has curated events for UNHEARD Festival and Deptford Cinema. Rachel is currently co-curating an exciting ekphrasis event for Tate Britain.

Aswini Weereratne QC


Aswini specialises in mental health law including mental capacity, health care law and human rights. Her practice encompass many areas in which these specialisms are important, for example, the Court of Protection, prison law, community care, actions for damages, inquests and inquiries. She is recommended in Chambers and Partners 2015 (Civil Liberties and Court of Protection) and the Legal 500 (civil liberties).

Leah Borromeo


Leah is a journalist and filmmaker who has worked as deputy foreign editor at Sky News, Channel 4 News and APTN; among the publications she contributes to are the Index on Censorship, the British Journal of Photography and Juxtapoz. She films for NGOs, social movements and factual programmes across the developing world from Haiti to Gaza to Pakistan and Iran.

Keir Starmer QC MP


Keir Starmer is a human rights barrister, Labour MP for and was director of public prosecutions from 2008-2013. He has conducted cases at the highest level in England and Wales, including over 30 cases in the House of Lords (before it became the Supreme Court) and before the Privy Council. He has also conducted cases all over the world, including in international courts such as the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Right, the Caribbean Court of Justice and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights

Martin Rowson


Martin is a cartoonist and author.His cartoons appear frequently in The Guardian and The Daily Mirror. A self-taught artist, he began contributing cartoons and illustrations to Broadsheet whilst at Cambridge, and after graduating he published his first series of cartoons - "Scenes from the Lives of the Great Socialists" - in the New Statesman, where it ran from 1982 to 1983. It was later published as a book.

Joanna Cherry QC MP


Joanna has practiced as an Advocate for 20 years. She became a QC in 2009 and is ranked by the Legal 500 as one of the leading QCs in Scotland. Joanna has been a member of the SNP since 2008 and is a long term supporter of independence and home rule. She previously held the offices of Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Government and Advocate Depute and she was one of the first specialist sex crimes prosecutors in the Crown Office’s pioneering National Sex Crimes Unit.

Miki Berenyi

Miki Berenyi works as an editorial drone at a magazine about the internet that isn't on the internet. Before that, she achieved some notoriety as singer and songwriter in the band Lush, during which time she enjoyed fanzine interviews more than being sneered at and stereotyped by a tabloid music press. Before that, she was one half of the editorial duo producing the fanzine Alphabet Soup, a tawdry embarrassment of puerile smut that still managed to have more energy and integrity than most commercial publications today

Jules Carey


Jules is a human rights lawyer who specialises in actions against the police. Since 1996, when he qualified as a solicitor, he has represented individuals as well as campaign and action groups and has had a number of high profile successes in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Jules is known for his work involving complex claims for false imprisonment, assault, malicious prosecution, discrimination, deaths in custody and judicial reviews. He has earned a reputation for challenging over-zealous or pre-emptive policing operations and obtaining redress for those affected.

Kevin Cahill

Kevin is an author and investigative journalist, living in Devon, England. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a full professional Fellow of the British Computer Society and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has written for the New Statesman and Country Life, has appeared on Despatches for Channel 4, and is Bureau Chief at the Global & Western News Bureau in Exeter, Devon

Xenofon Kavvadias


Xenofon’s art won the Edna Lumb award, an MAFA from Saint Martins and an MFA from Goldsmiths. He has exhibited extensively including "The Law is no less conceptual than Fine Art" and the 7th Berlin Biennale " Forget Fear." He also wrote a chapter in the “Book Terrorist Transgressions.” In 2014 as part of his ongoing project on cultural, political, social, direct and indirect censorship he displayed Richard Prince’s "Spiritual America 1983" - which theTate had previously controversially censored under pressure from the police.

Anthony Anaxagorou


Anthony Anaxagorou is an acclaimed poet, prose writer, playwright, performer and educator. He has published eight volumes of poetry, a spoken word EP, a book of short stories as well as writing for theatre. His poetry has appeared on BBC Youth Nation, BBC Newsnight, the British Urban Film Awards, BBC 6 Music and been performed by Cirque du Soleil. He teaches poetry and creative writing in schools, and works closely with both The Poetry Society and First Story. His work has been studied in universities across the USA, UK and Australia, as well as being translated into Spanish, Japanese and French. Anthony is the founder of Out-Spoken – one of London’s premier monthly events for poetry and live music held at The Forge, Camden. He also founded Out-Spoken Press in 2012.

Kareem Parkins-Brown
Henrietta Hill QC


Henrietta specialises in inquests, discrimination law, claims against the police and related public law work. She recently wrote the Right to Equality section of Halsbury’s Laws: Rights and Freedoms. She also has a wide international experience including work with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and teaching/research in Colombia, Montenegro and Hong Kong.

Neil Denny


Neil is the editor the Little Atoms Radio Show and podcast, in which capacity he has interviewed hundreds of people from astronauts to zoologists, hosted numerous live events at science and literary festivals, and had driven 6000 miles across America as part of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travelling fellowship. Little Atoms has been broadcasting interviews with leading writers from the worlds of science and the arts for 10 years. The show is broadcast every Wednesday morning at 11am on London’s Resonance 104.4fm, and the podcast is currently downloaded 110,000 times a month.

Ellie Mae O'Hagan


Ellie is a regular columnist for Comment is free. She works with the Centre for Labour and Social Studies; a think tank focusing on working rights and inequality. She has also worked with several Latin American organisations. Ellie writes mostly on trade unions, activism, feminism and Latin America.

Ben Rogers

Ben Rogers is Director of Centre for London - the London think tank. He has been a restaurant critic and government strategist.

He is the author of several acclaimed books on philosophy and history, including Blaise Pascal, In Praise of Vanity and A J Ayer, A Life and Beef and Liberty. He is particularly interested in themes of cities, citizenship, local civility and in the history of republican thought.

Natalia Kaliada


Natalia Kaliada is the co-founder and artistic director of Belarus Free Theatre, an underground theatre group formed in response to the severe censorship and repression of Alexander Lukashenko’s regime, the last dictatorship in Europe. Since its founding in 2005, Belarus Free Theatre has performed provocative plays (often held secretly) that focus on the consequences of state repression and its accompanying culture of fear.

Pete Brown


Pete is a British writer who specialises in making people thirsty. He is the author of five-and-a-half books as well as the annual Cask Report, and numerous articles in the drinks trade press and consumer press. He appears regularly on TV and radio, and is a judge on the BBC Food and Farming Awards and the Great Taste Awards. He is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers, and was named Beer Writer of the Year in 2009 and 2012.

Naomi Alderman


Naomi grew up in London and attended Oxford University and UEA. In 2006 she won the Orange Award for New Writers. In 2007, she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and one of Waterstones' 25 Writers for the Future. Her first novel, Disobedience, was published in ten languages; like her second novel, The Lessons, it was read on BBC radio's Book at Bedtime. Penguin published her third novel, The Liars' Gospel, in August 2012.

Jim Killock


Jim is Executive Director of Open Rights Group. Since joining Open Rights Group in January 2009, Jim has led campaigns against three strikes and the Digital Economy Act, the company Phorm and its plans to snoop on UK users, and against pervasive government Internet surveillance. He is working on data protection and privacy issues and was named as one of the 50 most influential people on IP issues by Managing IP in 2012.

David Flusfeder


David is an author living in London. He has been a tv critic for The Times, and a poker columnist for the Sunday Telegraph. His short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines, including Esquire, Arena, New Writing 8, Fatherhood, The Jewish Quarterly, The Agony & The Ecstasy.

Kat Francois


Kat Francois is a performance poet, playwright, director and facilitator. She was the first person to win a televised slam in the U.K, walking away with the title of BBC 3 Slam winner 2004, and a year later went on to win the World Slam Poetry Championships, in Rotterdam. She has performed nationally and internationally, including Vancouver, Toronto, Berlin, Stavanger, Jerusalem, Sweden, Rome, Belfast, Derry, Dublin, Rotterdam, Galway, Mumbai, Vienna, Italy, Adelaide, New York and Oslo.

Tim Wells

Tim Wells is the founding editor of the poetry magazine Rising. He has performed his work widely and has worked as a guest poet on Radio London and as writer in residence with Tighten Up, the East London reggae sound system. His recent books include Keep the Faith (Blackheath Books, 2013), Rougher Yet (Donut Press, 2009), and Boys' Night Out in the Afternoon (Donut Press, 2006), which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

Siobhan Grey


Siobhan has specialised as a criminal defence advocate for twenty years in the Crown Court. Many of Siobhan’s cases involve international and cross border issues as well as the interpretation of European Directives and European Council Regulations. Siobhan has staged seminars on Press Standards such as, “Gagging the Press - Is the Public Bound to Suffer?” and co-authored an introductory booklet on privacy and libel. She introduced a further seminar entitled, “Exposed” at the Tate Modern on Privacy, Censorship and State Surveillance.

Kieran Yates


Kieran is a freelance writer on music and politics for NME, The Metro and Dazed and Confused. She is the co-author of 'Generation Vexed' and is the co-host of The Guardian Music Weekly podcast.

Nick Cohen


Nick writes for the Observer, Time, Spectator and Standpoint and is the author of What's Left and You Can't Read This Book.

Bob and Roberta Smith


Bob and Roberta Smith is the name of the British artist whose best known works include: ~ Make Art Not War, which belongs to the Tate collection; and Letter to Michael Gove. Bob and Roberta Smith is actually one man. Before studying Fine Art at Goldsmiths in the early 1990’s, Bob lived in Rome, New York and Wensleydale, and now lives between Leytonstone in East London and Ramsgate.

Bob and Roberta Smith is actually one man. Before studying Fine Art at Goldsmiths in the early 1990’s, Bob lived in Rome, New York and Wensleydale, and now lives between Leytonstone in East London and Ramsgate.
Tom Hunter


Tom is an award winning and internationally acclaimed artist. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in major solo and group shows, most recently: Seduced by Art, National Gallery, UK; A Palace for Us, Serpentine Gallery, UK; Another Story, Photography from the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden. He published books including The Way Home, Living in Hell and Other Stories which won the John Kobal photographic book award in 2004.

Inua Ellams


Born in Nigeria in 1984, Inua Ellams is an internationally touring poet, playwright, performer, graphic artist & designer. He has published two pamphlets of poetry: ‘Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars’ and ‘Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales’. His first play ‘The 14th Tale’ (a one-man show which he performed) was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival and his third, ‘Black T-Shirt Collection’ ran at England’s National Theatre. He is currently working on ‘Barber Shop Chronicles’ – a new play, and a poetry pamphlet called #Afterhours.

David Carpenter

Professor Carpenter is a leading authority on the history of Britain in the central middle ages. Prior to joining the History department at King’s College London in 1988, David held lectureships at the University of Oxford, the University of Aberdeen, and Queen Mary College, University of London. David is on the committee of the Pipe Roll Society and is currently a Co-investigator on two further AHRC funded projects, ‘The Breaking of Britain Project’ about Scottish political culture before the Wars of Independence and the ‘Magna Carta Project’.

Carly Nyst


Carly is the head of international advocacy at Privacy International, a London-based charity that defends the right to privacy across the world and fights surveillance and other intrusions into private life by governments and corporations.

Joelle Taylor


Joelle Taylor is a poet, playwright, novelist and cultural terrorist. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the Poetry Society's national youth slam championships SLAMbassadors UK which works to return voices back to the silenced and nurture a new generation of poets and spoken word artists. She has written two poetry collections Ska Tissue (Mother Foucault 2011) and The Woman Who Was Not There (Burning Eye 2014) and has appeared in numerous anthologies. Her new spoken word theatre piece The Space Between Words will premier in 2016 and her debut novel (W)horror Stories has just been completed.

Scott Wood


Scott is the author of London Urban Legends: The Corpse on the Tube and an occasional writer for Little Atoms and Londonist. He has given walks as part of Camberwell Art Week, the Bloomsbury and the British Academy Literature Week 2015.

Joe England


Joe England is the editor, publisher and distributor of PUSH.

Martin Westgate QC

Martin has a consistent track record of advice and representation in a wide range of subject areas although he concentrates on public and administrative law, housing and social care. He has appeared in a number of leading cases (see below) at all levels up to and including the Supreme Court.

Barbora Bukovska


Barbora Bukovská has been ARTICLE 19’s Senior Director for Law and Policy since 2009. Barbora has an extensive experience working with various organisations on a range of human rights issues, including protection from discrimination, access to justice, deprivation of liberty, reproductive rights and community development. She also initiated about 50 cases at the European Court of Human Rights on these issues and has published a number of reports and articles on a broad range of human rights.

(in association with

The Politics of Identity
- Suzanne Moore, Neil Denny

Why is "identity politics" such a loaded term? What's wrong with nationalism? Columnist Suzanne Moore joins Little Atoms' Neil Denny to examine some modern shibboleths.

English Radicals
- Ted Vallance

Historian Ted Vallance on the men and women who fought for liberty.

Sex, Death Religion and Politics in Clerkenwell
- Scott Wood

A two-hour ramble through the rude, rebellious and rotten history of Smithfield and Clerkenwell. Join Scott Wood at 3pm outside 119 Farringdon Road for penny dreadful murder porn, a Georgian libel prisoner, fraudulent ghosts, holy jesters, idiot astrologers, reformation horrors and much more.

Imagining the Medieval Mind
- Naomi Alderman, David Flusfeder, Neil Denny

Authors Naomi Alderman and David Flusfeder join Neil Denny to discuss how contemporary authors envisage the minds of their historical characters.

New Politics
- Zoe Williams, Dawn Foster

Zoe Williams, author of Get It Together: Why We Deserve Better Politics in conversation with writer Dawn Foster on how to fix our broken political system.


A History of Magna Carta
- Professor David Carpenter

Professor David Carpenter on the origins of Magna Carta; the history and its continuing symbolic importance.

Truth and Lines
- Kareem Parking-Brown, Rachel Long, Anthony Anaxagorou, Joelle Taylor

Spoken word artists on human rights and civil liberties, featuring Kareem Parkins–Brown, Rachel Long and Anthony Anaxagorou, hosted by Joelle Taylor.

Truth and Lines
- Kat Francois

A participatory workshop exploring writing and performance in the context of free expression and political debate, led by Kat Francois.

Truth and Lines
- Kat Francois, Joelle Taylor, Inua Ellams, Kareem Parkins-Brown

Spoken word artists on human rights and civil liberties, featuring Kat Francois, Joelle Taylor and Inua Ellams, hosted bu Kareem Parkins-Brown.

The Gutter Press – A practical guide to zines, ranting and hand to hand protest
- Miki Berenyi, Tim Wells, Joe England

Join poet Tim Wells, editor of Rising poetry magazine, Miki Berenyi, lead singer of indie band Lush and author of filthy feminist zine Alphabet Soup and Joe England, editor of popular lit zine Push sold at West Ham Utd FC, as they discuss zines past and present. Take part in the zine resurgence and contribute to a one-off Alternative Magna Carta production which will be made and printed during the event, with a bit of help from Renee of Ladies of the Press.

Food & Freedom
- Pete Brown, Ben Rogers, Niamh Shields

Beer writer Pete Brown, Beef and Liberty author Ben Rogers and Eat Like A Girl blogger Niamh Shields explore the relationship between national identity and national cuisine.

Music and Protest
- Andrew Mueller, Kieran Yates, Rhian Jones

Music writers Rhian Jones and Kieran Yates join Andrew Mueller, author of It's Too Late To Die Young Now, to talk pop music, protest and politics.

Rough Music Rhyme Time
- The AMM All Stars

A programme combining rough music and rhyme time to create an improvised “you call that music” music and bridging the un-wholly gap between adult and child creativity. Participants will be encouraged to improvise with musicians to create a cacophony that tackles art, class and the old cleavage, digging out unburied fossil fragments of our fracking futures past. So get thee knee deep in musical mud in the land of lost socks and join in to tell ‘em how it is. Or just join in for fun. The session will be delivered by Peter Baxter, librarian at Camden Libraries, and the in-house band of Unkant Publishing, the AMM All Stars.

Magna Errata
- Lewis Bush

Magna Errata or ‘Great Errors’ is a photographic exhibition highlighting some of the ways that civil liberties and human rights have been eroded in recent years. From Edmund Clark’s documentation of the home of a terrorism suspect held under house arrest in a suburban villa, to Hannah Mornement’s investigation into food security and food banks in the United Kingdom, these projects aim to shine a light on the way rights that we often regard as inalienable have been progressively undermined. Curated by photographer/writer Lewish Bush.


Why Do We Hate Free Speech?
- Nick Cohen

Polemicist Nick Cohen, author of You Can't Read This Book, critiques modern-day censorship from blasphemy to big business.

Art, Culture & Dissent
- Bob & Roberta Smith, Xenofon Kavvadias, Natalia Kaliada, Tom Hunter

Artists Bob & Roberta Smith and Xenofon Kavvadias, Natalia Kaliada of the Belarus Free Theatre and photographer Tom Hunter explore the interaction of art and culture as forms of dissent in a series of 15 minute talks hosted by social justice activist Farzana Khan.

Land Reform
- Kevin Cahill, Joanna Cherry

Kevin Cahill, author of Who Owns Britain and SNP Home Affairs spokeswoman Joanna Cherry on land ownership in Britain.

Habeas Corpus in the Digital Age
- Jim Killock, Carly Nyst, Jamie Bartlett

Who can capture your digitial self? Jim Killock, Carly Nyst, Jamie Bartlett discuss. Chaired by Mike Harris.

Protest Now
- Jules Carey, Ellie Mae O'Hagan, Leah Borromeo, ARTICLE 19

How free is protest in modern Britain? Leading human rights lawyer Jules Carey (on spy cops) joins journalists and activists Ellie Mae O'Hagan and Leah Borromeo and Barbora Bukovska on the challenges protesters face today.

Laughing at Tyrants: A Graphic Guide to Visual Satire
- Martin Rowson

Cartoonist Martin Rowson delves into a visual history of satire.

Time for a British Bill of Rights?

Labour MP and former DPP Keir Starmer joins Joanna Cherry MP (SNP) and others in a panel discussion to talk about the implications of a British Bill of Rights.

Explore Human Rights
- Aswini Weereratne QC, Henrietta Hill QC, Siobhan Grey, Martin Westgate QC

Have a one-to-one discussion with top barristers, ask them anything! Doughty St Chambers' Aswini Weereratne QC, Henrietta Hill QC, Siobhan Grey, and Martin Westgate QC will be on hand to answer any questions you have on your human rights.

Impact Through Documentaries
- Luke Moody

Luke Moody talks us through the power of documentaries to effect social change with selected clips from BRITDOC's Impact Awards documentaries shortlist

We deserve an alternative celebration which recognises the importance of
Magna Carta in curtailing the powers of the executive, and which challenges
and appraises modern Britain’s attitude to civil liberties.
We need a Magna Carta event with teeth - and where better than Clerkenwell,
London’s historic centre of dissent?

  • debates
  • music
  • spoken word
  • tours
  • theatre
  • beer
  • workshops
  • film
  • food
  • Free Word Centre, Betsey Trotwood pub, and 119 Farringdon Road

    There is disabled access in the Free Word Centre but the Betsey Trotwood pub and 119 Farringdon Road have limited access available. Please contact us in advance if you need any arrangements to be made. Children are welcome throughout the day but must be accompanied by an adult. There is a short musical programme for children under-5 in the Magna Carta Cafe at 12.30pm.

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