Dark Side of Magna Carta

Questioning Magna Carta's Legacy

MC MoumentAmidst the celebrations of the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta a pause for reflection is necessary. The Newcastle Human Rights and Social Justice Forum set out to question just what is being celebrated and what, in the midst of these celebrations, what aspects of Magna Carta's legacy are being forgotten:


What is the Magna Carta's relevance to contemporary developments in the UK Constitution?


How did a feudal bargain between an inept King John and his most powerful subjects come to vested with immense symbolism within the United Kingdom’s legal and political order?

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When the 1215 Magna Carta was quickly repudiated and the reincarnations of the instrument shorn of their more radical provisions, can it support the rule-of-law claims based upon it?


How did imperial narratives which justified the extension of Magna Carta to colonised peoples as part of the United Kingdom's "civilising mission" come to be reimagined as "exporting British values"?


How can celebrating the Magna Carta be squared with the current threat to the United Kingdom's commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights?



We will be exploring how Magna Carta's legacy has been invoked in support of a range of highly contested historical and contemporary constitutional developments in a one-day conference at Newcastle Law School on 24 July 2015. Attendence is free thanks to funding from the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal and the Society of Legal Scholars.


Attendees are asked to register for the Conference by contacting Kevin Crosby at kevin.crosby@ncl.ac.uk.