Honorary degrees presented to inspirational figures at DMU Winter Graduations

A former Detective Chief Inspector whose years of diligence secured two convictions for the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the woman who took on the Government over its Brexit plans, and won, are to receive honorary degrees from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

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Ex-Scotland Yard detective Clive Driscoll is to receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in recognition of his persistent pursuit of the truth in the Stephen Lawrence murder case.

While democracy campaigner Gina Miller is to receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters after challenging Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to invoke Article 50 – the legal mechanism for starting Brexit – without letting Parliament have a say.

An honorary degree will also be awarded to Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, the man who led the Working Group on Ethnic Minorities, which was tasked by the United Nations to grapple with horrifying ethnic conflicts following the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

Ambassador Ahrens will receive an Honorary Doctor of Education for committing his professional life to peacekeeping.

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Each recipient will be handed their honorary degree alongside hundreds of students at ceremonies taking place at The Venue@DMU on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week.

The three honorands have been chosen because their outstanding actions are considered an inspiration to graduates as they leave university and pursue their own careers – an illustration of what can be achieved through dedication and a desire for positive change.

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  • Clive Driscoll volunteered to take on the Stephen Lawrence case after finding ‘acres’ of paperwork boxed up in a soon-to-be decommissioned police station related to the investigation.

Mr Driscoll found crucial information had been entered incorrectly into police computers so his team had to start again, transferring every single piece of data from the hundreds of dusty case-files over the space of two years. In total, more than half a decade’s work lay ahead, time often marked by repeated resistance, or lack of cooperation, from within the police itself.

Clive Driscoll’s citation, which is to be read out at the ceremony, will conclude: “Across long, testing years Clive Driscoll honoured Stephen Lawrence through tireless, fearless duty, and worked to turn institutional failure into justice served.

“For his inspiring diligence and dedication, compassion and commitment, in a career serving and protecting the public good, we honour him today.”

Stephen's mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence is Chancellor of DMU and will be attending the ceremony.

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  • Gina Miller’s fight in the High Court saw her vilified by sections of the tabloid press and verbally abused in the street for taking a stand.

After the shockwave of the Referendum result, Ms Miller said she was concerned experienced politicians – our leaders – ‘appeared not to know that only Parliament can take away from people the rights that Parliament had granted’.

They were instead proposing to trigger withdrawal from the EU through the royal prerogative, ‘an ancient right that kings once used to rid themselves of enemies’.  

Ms Miller is the founder of the True and Fair Foundation charity whose stated aim is to increase common good in an era of growing inequality, and to encourage those enjoying success to make it count by sharing their success.

She also insists we should ‘shine a light in dark corners’, and tell the stories that are not being told; that we stand for accountability and openness; that we strive to ensure industry and institutions understand their societal responsibility.

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  • Geert-Hinrich Ahrens is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Bonn, and has served as a Senior Research Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, among other leading international roles.

Ambassador Ahrens has worked with DMU already, speaking at a conference organised by the university’s Jean Monnet Centre for European Governance, and to students on the ‘Yugoslavia and Beyond’ course. The best student writing on that course receives a prize given in his name.

His book about his peacekeeping role in the Balkans – Diplomacy on the Edge – is a core text for the students.

His citation concludes: “Ambassador Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, for your outstanding career as both a diplomat and as a scholar; for committing your professional life to peace-building and consensus; and for your dedication to democracy, equality and equal representation – values we aspire to and advocate in every aspect of DMU life, work and research – we are proud to honour you today.”

Posted on Tuesday 22nd January 2019

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