Benedict Cumberbatch did a disturbing PSA about the Human Rights Act


This is a very internal-British-politics story, but hey, it involves Benedict Cumberbatch, so let’s talk about it. While campaigning for re-election, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his plans to scrap the Human Rights Act – in which Britain basically signed on for 1950 European Convention of Human Rights – and replace it with a “British Bill of Rights” which, Cameron claimed, would basically function the same way. The British Bill of Rights would still include rights like “freedom from slavery” and “freedom to due process,” etc., but these would be limited in cases of terrorism and other exceptions. Many Brits don’t want to throw out the Human Rights Act, believing that it functions very well as-is. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of those Brits.

Benedict donated his time and his silky voice to Liberty Human Rights for what amounts to a PSA about the importance of the Human Rights Act. It’s pretty graphic (no obscene words, it’s just a disturbing story), so NSFW. He’s telling “Janet’s story.”

It’s a powerful story. Far be it from me to interfere with internal British politics, but I really don’t understand why the Tories have such a problem with the Human Rights Act and why they want to spend some of the political capital basically re-doing it with some revisions?

As for Benedict and his preggo bride, from what I’m seeing… Sophie Hunter still hasn’t given birth. Any day now, maybe. As we discussed on Sunday, Benedict and Sophie just bought a new London townhouse for their family. Sources told The Sun that Sophie was the one leading the charge for a new place, with one source saying: “Sophie wanted a break from the past and a fresh start with their new arrival which meant a new home. They’re planning to modernise the house throughout but it has great space and potential in which to bring up a family.” Sources also said Sophie didn’t want to live in the same place Benedict had shared with Olivia Poulet, his girlfriend of a decade: “You can’t blame Sophie for wanting to move somewhere else. Nobody wants to be reminded of their husband’s past relationships.” Were there still photos of Olivia all around the place?


Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

42 Responses to “Benedict Cumberbatch did a disturbing PSA about the Human Rights Act”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Hawkeye says:

    Seems to me that conservatives like to rewrite current legislation, pretending it’s just an update, but stripping away bits of it to make it less powerful. (And if it can’t be done in the legislative branch, it can be done in the judicial branch. See what happened to the Voting Rights Act in the U.S.)

  2. Lindy79 says:

    Has anyone done any in debth looking into this proposed change in the Act? Are any things being removed or just added? Is it just more for show and nothing will really change or are they trying to pull a fast one?

    (in relation to the house, it seems a bit odd to blame Sophie for the move. They’re expecting a child and its not exactly unusual for people to upscale when they start a family. I would however love for him to get his ring properly fitted)

    • Spanky says:

      Essentially the Torys want to change it because as it stands foreign convicts are using the act to avoid deportation. The issue is that if you create a bill that amends this issue you make fundamental rights vulnerable.

  3. Lola says:

    I too I’m clueless about British politics, but sometimes when politicians do things is to hide other intentions. Kind of like a smoke and mirrors things … look here, look here, while over there. while you are not watching, because I have you distracted with something, I am changing something else.
    It would be great to read the point of view of people living in Britain.

    • ISee says:

      Hi Lola :) Basically, we signed up to the current human rights bill in 1997 and it coincides with human rights within the EU. The Tories want out as they do not like the EU and how many of the laws are ultimately decided by the high courts in Strasbourg. Whilst the basic rights are (hopefully) not going to change, it would means that British judges would have final say in rulings. This all sounds fine until you realise that if someone wants to contest that their humans rights have been violated, they still have to go to Strasbourg to have their case heard. Having to go through the entire British court system and then having to fund yourself through to Europe makes it much harder for an average British citizen, almost finically impossible without some serious money behind you. Couple this with the fact that the Tories have been majorly told off by the EU courts for violating human rights with their extreme welfare measures (they werent allowed to carry out their barbaric ideas) and you begin to see the hidden agenda behind this expensive, dangerous and utterly pointless move.

  4. Sixer says:

    Just to say that ECHR and the Human Rights Act are two completely different things. Most of the rhetoric on this conflates the two so that they can confound the population and get them onside.

    The Tories want a British Bill of Rights because a) they think it will satisfy the wing of their own party and the section of the population who want to leave the EU, without actually leaving the EU, and b) well, there isn’t really much of a B aside from the usual assault by politicians on the civil liberties of the working Joe.

    Basically, the Tories want to stay in the EU but since a large proportion of their voting base doesn’t, they want a nice Britisher-sounding thing that makes it look as though we’ve kicked Brussels in the knackers.

    SIGH. It’ll end up with fewer, less protected rights for the ordinary person, and the powers that be will spend months whipping up xenophobia and discord. Same old, same old, then.

    Good for Ben for having a moan up.

    • Lola says:

      Gatcha… thank you for posting.

    • Lindy79 says:

      Thanks Sixer!!

    • frisbeejada says:

      Well said Sixer, that’s pretty much my understanding of it too. It’s such a load of old tosh this, basically we’re effed without Europe and the Tories know it but they’re so gutless in the face of their own back bench right wing they really do have to wrap it up as ‘kicking Brussells in the knackers’ – as you so eloquently put it. So sick of politicians, now thinking of the Orkney’s…

    • Sixer says:

      @frisbeejada – and of course, as Spanky notes above, it’ll all be dressed up as “Well someone has to do SOMETHING about those evil brown extremists WHO ARE TAKING OVER OUR COUNTRY AND THOSE EVIL CONTINENTALS (who are almost as bad as the evil brown extremists) KEEP STOPPING US FROM PUTTING THEM IN A SACK AND THROWING THEM IN THE SEA.”

      Oh, aren’t the Orkneys trying to throw out the Lib Dem guy that leaked the inaccurate Sturgeon memo? Yes! Let’s go there! We can go back to nature and rekindle Skara Brae!

      • frisbeejada says:

        Your’e on but only if I can go in Woad wearing a Tartan loin cloth, and I can have Neil Oliver as my special friend. (I have tried this look – aiming for ‘Mystique’ but I only really achieved McSmurf – Neil won’t mind, he’ll be too drunk to care by the time I’ve finished with him….)

      • Sixer says:

        Oh, et tu! I have a Neil Oliver crush. Fully-formed!

      • frisbeejada says:

        It’s the long flowing dark hair wot does it – along with a Celtic accent – every time (Aidan Turner can come too, although I suspect he’s not quite as bright…)

      • icerose says:

        This bill has lots of hidden issues besides immigration

        There are also huge hidden potential impacts on the the NHS because some of the changes will allow companies who have brought up to 60 percent of non medical services -(many connected to Conservative MPS) will be able to prevent the government from making changes which lower their profits.

        Vanessa Redgrave and others have made videos about it might also effect people who;s human rights are threatened.
        Not sure why Benny is the centre of this story as the there are others just as well known lending the opposition

    • Mini says:

      I dont think most of the country want out of the EU its just loud minority. The problem with people who scream and shout about getting out of the EU they don’t really know why they want to be out of it. Its the same with immigration its easier to hate the immigrant and the EU than to think our country is fucked by our own government. The Tories are utter bollocks.

    • Heathering says:


      And all the many misnomers and conflations in play mean that they have been able to veil what is, predominantly, Law being framed ad hoc for Party political expediency.

      As a rule of thumb, with no personal favouritism to my own point on the spectrum, P(!)olitically motivated ‘baby out with the bath water’ dismantling of wider commitment to long standing frameworks and practise in favour of a narrowed new provision makes for Bad Law.

      And when key aspects of the case for such wholesale changes are implicitly wrapped up in ‘othering’ some in order to further the ‘legitmacy’ of the case for change, then that strikes up warning bells for me.

  5. Mila says:

    Always be suspicious when legislation like that is changed. If there was a mistake they could have asked to update it, not make their own. It sounds very fishy.

  6. Anna B says:

    Yes, the Tory proposal for a British Bill of Rights is a Trojan Horse to dilute rights protection in the UK – especially for non-nationals – and to undermine the status of the ECHR. All the lawyers I know are genuinely upset and outraged about it. Well done to Bendy for getting involved!

  7. Kiki says:

    I usually don’t listen to high profiled celebrities when they want to talk about politics that doesn’t pertain to their lifestyle, but when Benedict Cumberbatch did a powerful message on serious act of the human freedom that is peril, I am deeply moved and saddened about the UK’s stupid “bill of British Act”. I am with the people of the UK who opposed this act.

  8. MP says:

    Maybe our favorite human rights lawyer will have a say about this. Amal Clooney to the rescue!

    • Felice. says:

      I’m sure she’s grateful that she wasn’t portrayed in The Fifth Estate.

    • Sixer says:

      Um… actually, any lawyer working in London in the human rights field will be dreading this act. Reputational damage to London as a world centre of this type of legal work will be huge.

      • Heathering says:

        And I honestly resisted for hours making an Amal-specific post but here goes cos this may be what makes me most cross of all about Amal/Clooney ‘Inc’ bid for attention and note by attempting to stand astride so many, typically (and usually best kept that way), discreet media PR areas – celeb through lawyering & politics with stops at style, fashion, and Hollywood along the way.

        Making no comment on Amal’s credibility or skills as a lawyer OR the specific cases to which she is attached (however notionally in name only) – her antics of turning cases into pap walks ARE now serving as a big stick for those in favour of the new plans to use as a further cause to diminish this area of vital Law in the eyes of the British public. She is not being viewed in the positive as making a case for the UK retaining its current obligations and practise. Rather she, and her “glamorous lawyer” act, are serving to trivialise and undermine the ability for critical thinking and understanding of the fundamentals of protection (for everyone) currently under threat.

      • Sixer says:


  9. Shelly says:

    This bill will greatly affect Amal Clooney. The idea is to protect national sovereignty from foreign interests. She “works” against Britain constantly (see: Ireland and Greece). She would be out of a job.

  10. Heathering says:

    I fundamentally oppose the newly re-elected Conservative Government’s plans and the efforts to turn THAT very determined ship around are going to be exhausting. They also need to be exhaustive in using every avenue available to defend maintaining Britain’s obligations to maintain protection and observance within the widest commitment framework possible.

    So, I commend Cumberbatch for putting his head above the parapet on this. However, I’ve spend a lot of time in Town Hall style forums and, even more, on doorsteps/stalls/etc, and, sadly, the prevailing mood of the public seems in favour of the Government’s proposals; and too visible a celebrity ‘talking head’ style approach is more likely to confirm people in that support, rather than reverse the trend.

    The doorsteps *say* people view too many human rights’ actions to be “frivilous”, “at too great a cost to the tax payer”, “not about protecting individuals but vested interest groups”, “not sufficiently adept at sorting out the ‘false claims’ from the ‘just claims’”, “too generous to people looking to make a quick killing financially (including lawyers)”, “too lengthy and cumbersome”, “too open to abuse”, “too too tied to European ideas not ‘British values’ (whatever that even means)”, “too much of a bandwagon”, “everyone’s too litigious”, “what about our Sovereignty?”… and so on.

    Now I don’t agree with much, if any, of that (at least not without a lot of qualification) BUT it is the increasingly vocal perception out there. And while the individual case Cumberbatch outlined IS/WAS a powerful one, this Government are very skilled at noising out the individual cases which ought to simply make the case against them limiting Britain in the way they wish. Instead, they can, and do, pander to the above kind of doorstep ‘arguments’ by making the message all about ‘groups or individuals’ who do sometimes abuse the system. And that can sometimes actually be made easier for them to do successfully if those wishing to make the positive case against this trend rely too heavily on “a celebrity says”. That in itself has become a new type of negative reinforcer to many British ears.

    And having typed all of that, with it unlikely to post, I’m sighing at myself damned if I can even reach for the best answer and better approaches. I watched Cumberbatch’s video as already convinced, so I’m only able to comment as NOT the target audience to be persuaded, but I do think there is a need for people opposing the changes to be less highhanded (I’m sure I can be at times) and tone deaf to sentiments like the above. They’re not so easy to dismiss as it maybe ought to seem they ought to be. I just worry, given the litany of above type comments dominating, that this type of PSA, however well intentioned, mostly just appeals to those, like myself, already convinced.

    Although, obviously, many other efforts are underway so it’s not merely an echo-chamber approach. But… . Again, this is probably a bit of a navel gazing Brit *sigh* “the state we’re in” post. Sorry.

    Any chance SH has had the baby and that’s a delaying ‘pillow’ in those pics? :-D

    • Sixer says:

      I agree. It’s the same extrapolation with the welfare debate, wilfully aided and abetted by the media with shows like Benefits Street. And I think the same basic attitude is the source of Labour’s defeat at the election. They either patronised people or pandered to their more unworthy insticts.

      People do have real problems and real anxieties and these are played into by the anti-EU, anti-welfare, anti-anything rhetoric. The problem for those of us who cherish civil liberties and an otherwise decent society is not just to challenge the narrative, but to supply alternative solutions. You can’t just tell people they’re ignorant and expect them to agree with you and change their minds. You’ve got to give them a positive choice. When you do that, the anxieties and the rushes to judgement fade away.

      • Heathering says:


        And we’re potentially forever to be thrown back into challenging these newly fuelled perceptions from a position almost always, now, on the bloody back foot. And a negative one at that.

        For all very real accounts such as that video can/do/should appal many/most they are, by their very nature, NEGATIVELY front-loaded; even if through being appalled people do/ought to feel inclined to POSITIVELY respond “not and never in my name”, that engagement rarely sustains without a credible and very visual rally to a positive “not and never in my name” gathering point. For all the high falutin words and core gut beliefs (mine as expressed, included) there’s a failure, as yet, to cohesively set a location for that gathering point.

        As to the Labour Party, as a card carrier of many years, best I don’t even comment. Also, I’m Scottish. Enough said ;)

      • Heathering says:

        And on my last, I’m not self tone deaf to my own bringing of “people *ought* to”s into my waxing on. But this is a discussion board, so, yep, dammit I do believe there to be a basic “ought” as humans in play. Were I to be writing in a more formal/academic sense I’d obviously try harder for ‘objective’ bringing less of ‘me’ and less pre/pro-scribe.

        And, I believe, elsewhere more suitable, even without “oughts”s that case can/is/(hopefully still) will be made upon sound and reasoned grounds.

      • Sixer says:

        My card went back over Iraq, Heathering. I spent some time hoping, but these days, I can’t even see any possibility of ever wanting it back. Labour is in a mess of horrible cognitive dissonance – one day, it’s anti-immigration mugs (MUGS, for crissakes) in their online shop, and the next it’s London chatterati columnists who wouldn’t know real life if it slapped them in the face with a wet fish lecturing the hoi polloi on their disgusting xenophobia.

        Can’t have it both ways.

        The people who are resentful and who feel hard done by do have legitimate concerns. They want affordable housing for themselves and for their children when the time comes, and they want to find an NHS dentist in their area, and they want their kids to get into the junior school just up the road, not the one a bus ride away. Fix those things – or at least go into an election with a positive plan to fix those things – and the anti-immigration sentiment melts away. You don’t need bloody MUGS.

      • Heathering says:

        Sixer, my membership actively “lapsed” for a time. AND, times now, it can be hard to recall why in the hell I re-upped. Maybe it’s just the thrawn Scot in me :-D .

        It’s a bloody mess but, work wi a guid will, and messes can be properly cleared up (NB – I’m, and after this month fewer are too, NOT down for THAT being a simply sweeping under the carpet. It’s now, rightfully, too tough to just ignore those mounds piled up under. We cannae walk straight for them. But it’s time we tried.

        And, again, I am Scottish… troubles and mess to seek aren’t far away these days. Bloomin’ daily onslaught. But still… I don’t know how not to believe that which I believe even if ridiculous “soundbite” politics and culture tells me to shut up and “do one”.

        /although, now wine has happened, best I do shut up for now :-D

        And, lest you doubt, I totally understand and appreciate why your Card went! Although, weirdly, GE15 was actually fought on a decent manifesto (better/more root than for a while) but the ‘messaging’ was poor – even if I despise the dynamic of “it’s all about messaging”, pragmatically a LOT is. Also, our ‘personnel’ are/are perceived of as weak AND careerist. Not even entirely going to argue agin… and I am of the generation (worked with) when careerism kinda began. *more sighs*

      • LAK says:

        Here is the thing, those ‘simple’ people that you meet at the door step, whose views are ignored because, because, BECAUSE…..end up voting into government parties that the high faluting, talking down at the simple door step people think are unelectable.

        Then there is shock and protest because the ‘simple’ door step people dared to voted against the high faluting people. Being labelled idjits and stupid or choosing the politics of fear……

        I’m not saying you ladies are wrong, nor am I saying the parties don’t pander, but when the ‘simple’ door step people want to give you a bloody nose because you won’t listen, the recent election result is what you get.

      • Sixer says:

        @ Heathering – I surely do feel your pain. And LOL @ wine!

        @ LAK – actually, that was really the point I was trying to make. It is the cause of the election result.

        I think, for example, we all understand that immigration (or, more specifically, EU migrant workers) is a hot button issue which leads to anti-other, anti-welfare, anti-EU sentiments. And I think we can all also agree that those sentiments really aren’t unreasonable if you are living in an area with a high concentration of immigrants and there is too much pressure on things like school places, GP surgeries, NHS dentists and availability of rental accommodation.

        UKIP and the Tories have solutions to those (real) problems: reduce the number of immigrants and make it harder for those that are here by coming out of the EU, or persuading the EU to change the free movement/welfare entitlement rules, replacing the HRA with a British bill of rights that will disadvantage immigrants. These are actual solutions, so those with the problems are being entirely rational in voting for them.

        But those of us who are pro-Europe, pro-freedom of movement, fond of our civil liberties, believe influxes of new people make positive additions to the make-up of the country, who can see that we need immigrants because of an ageing population and low birth rate – what are we (or rather, Labour) offering as solutions to the people with the actual problems? We (or rather, Labour) are vacillating between copying the Tories and telling the people with actual problems that they’re scuzzy xenophobics. It’s not good enough.

        There are solutions to those problems that don’t involve getting rid of all the immigrants and losing all the benefits they bring. But Labour failed to offer them. And that’s why they lost.

    • Heathering says:

      LAK, that was the essence of my post(s). I know I’m horridly longwinded at times. My thoughts jump and run and I’m all too often frankly SH12 at edit.

      I agree, perhaps even in we’re coming at the proposals from different angles, I agree that meaningless buzz wordery, taking folks for granted as easily gulled etc HAS to stop. It’s never been how I’ve understood politics, people thinking and deciding. I may disagree with the take from the doorsteps but, and I hope (though obviously not) I had made it clear NEVER do I underestimate or devalue it as real or valid as a view by right. I wouldn’t, personally, still be nursing blisters and scabby heels if I didn’t believe the doorsteps matter above all else – even if, maybe even moreso WHEN, they differ from my train of thought; not just on this but it all.

      I hope that’s a bit clearer, and just me speaking for myself (NOT a Party). Hell, I don’t even get reimbursed for the blister plasters :-)

      And bloody noses, my view, you damn well take them on the chin and then look to why and then keep kinda dookin it out but better informed as to the why others felt the need to hit out. It’s sore (and I rail against the low blows, not on) but, on the whole, fair play. Petted lips, daft, that’s a sure way to loss and quite rightly. Why bother. So if my high falutin appeared disregarding, all I can say, that was not my intent.

      PS, I never have/would/will use “simple” in that context. Quite the contrary! If I assume folks to be dumb, I’d be as well to go eye REAL dumb in the bloody mirror!

      • Sixer says:

        Sorry, Heathering, I typed out the above post before scrolling down and seeing yours.

  11. Betti says:

    My understanding with this new act is primarily to protect British interests and stop interference from the European Courts who are, lets face it, biased against Britain (one rule for the UK and one for the rest of Europe) and have a history of making effed up decisions. It’s also to stop foreign criminals and illegal immigrants from using the act to stay in the country when they have no legal right to do so – they use the ‘i will be tortured because of [insert excuse here]‘. There was one story a while ago about an illegal immigrant who killed a young girl while drunk driving – after doing his jail time the Home Office tried to deport him back to his own country where there was outstanding warrants for him but he used the excuse that he has a child with a UK national to fight it and he won. He didn’t show any remorse for the death of the child.

    There is nothing wrong with the act itself per se, but it’s abused but the EU isn’t prepared to do anything to close the loopholes that lawyers like Amal Clooney use. No piece of legislation is perfect.

  12. Pushkar says:

    The Tories getting back in will be the worse thing ever to happen post war to this country, aside from Thatcher.

  13. Sara says:

    How is this disturbing exactly?

    • Heathering says:

      Apply to ANY/or Your brother, father, son, sister, mother, daughter, neighbour, the person who smiles as they pour your coffee, or (making it tougher, but – hopefully – only a bit) the boss/colleague who is a right pain in the a*hole but does anti-up on cake-day or birthday whip rounds…

      Then remove yourself, a bit, from the Coke ad (other soft drinks and every other feckin product which plays to ‘sincere & sentimental’ targeted messaging these day – so pretty much everything – may apply) approach & potential “urgh, yeah, whatever”…

      maybe then… yes/no? Because, even in the worst of fecked up worlds, until we know otherwise for sure… being human, as messy as all that sometimes means, is IT for us. If we can no longer engage as just that, human, yep no PSB is gonna alter our f*’d or sense of “disturbing”.

  14. LAK says:

    I beg to differ. Despite this high profile luvvie campaign, I very much want it to be scrapped and rewritten to benefit British people.

    As currently written, it is very open to abuse.

    This is the one instance I turn into a little Englander.

    • Heathering says:

      Sorry LAK if it feels like I’m coming at you (particularly as I know and am all too prepared to acknowledge the faults allowing some actual – and some more perceived but less actual in real terms – within the current system).

      BUT, yes there are loopholes and flaws sometimes used and abused. ‘Just’ can never be perfect. Indeed, by design, it may be weighted to built-in ‘imperfect’ partly because humans are and partly because wiggle room maybe just has to prioritise giving us all the greater towards benefit of doubt OR risk too many being trapped and hurt unjustly as a consequence of us running to ‘protect’ ourselves (perhaps falsely) behind too much cynicism and doubting the best possible of others.

      How do we frame fair & just protection and treatment for ALL – Brits too – by speculatively pre-judging and ‘othering’ others to such an extent as somehow less worthy to being heard; by limiting our scope to give ALL due process… unless defined as “Englander” by right? Btw, I dislike that term, along with “British values”, mainly because I’ve yet to know or be given a reasoned definition I can get with as to what those terms mean or amount to. I certainly at this point can’t identify with them as a person. They are all too pat and buzz word – but what do they mean?

      I’m too long in the tooth to have the luxury of being an idealist BUT certain fundamentals remain absolutely, and pragmatically, well fundamental to me.

      Human Rights, and the best possible (however a bit flawed) safe guarding of them is such a fundamental for me. As imperfect as the current system may be, I’ve yet to see cause or case for Britain taking its ball home, playing alone but with the same likely risk (maybe even greater) abuses of the ‘game’.

      Unnecessarily throwing up of more ‘borders’ may seem like a sound protective barrier, short term, but, ultimately in practise, we’ve narrowed ourselves to similar abuses… we’ll just turn to be pi**ing in our own tent in a camp site of one, rather than being an active part in trying best to prevent almighty sh** engulfing the whole bally wider world resort. Seems a poor grounding upon which to pitch a hastily sewn tent. Certainly not the ground I’d hope to pitch at a Festival. And my take, the toilets are likely to stink quicker than some might think.

      Again, just my take and I do understand, just don’t agree with, where you’re coming from.

      /apology for longwinded now as standard, please (and, thank you) :)

  15. anon121 says:

    I just watched the video. Sadly, it sounds like many of the stories that I’ve been reading about here in the states. Police everywhere need to be held accountable and need to be reminded that they work for the public, not the other way around.