In our first Nicholls lecture of the academic year, a Justice of the Supreme Court, Lord Nicholas Wilson, explored human rights and their role in the courtroom, compared with a widely known standardised morality in Europe and specifically the UK.
By Grace Harvey, Lower Sixth Student
Lord Nicholas Wilson began by establishing his background in family law and his incentive to help the defenceless and disadvantaged. Compassionate and aware, he went on to discuss the injustice that is present today, mentioning the treatment of immigrants in the southern states of the USA and of Muslims in China, and highlighting the now normalised right-wing nationalist view present in the world. Using this as a point of reference, he then cited the Declaration of Independence, containing a quotation from John Locke, which stated the people’s right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. In this same fashion, Lord Wilson pointed out the hypocrisy of law and how morality does not precisely correlate with justice.
Returning to current affairs, he discussed a recent case of his in which a man who desired suicide argued that his relatives should have the right to assist him without being penalised. Highlighting how the law against assisted suicide directly contradicts the 8th article of the European Convention of Human Rights, Lord Wilson made clear the difficult decision he faced.
In a final anecdote, in which he recalled pinching the tops of his knees to refrain from crying in an especially emotional and difficult case, Lord Wilson’s zenith of compassion was made clear. After truthfully revealing the difficulty of his work and how money was purely secondary, he invited the student body to consider studying and working in the field of human rights to evoke change and make a difference, which he firmly believes is greatly needed in this rapidly declining world.
The Nicholls Lecture Series is part of Birkenhead School's 'Inspiring Talks Series' to read more articles on the other guests that we have welcomed to the School, please click here.