Welcome to Free Word. Interested in exploring the political and cultural power of words? Join us at an upcoming event or read about the themes we explore.

Our Trustees

Free Word is supported by a Board of Trustees whose knowledge and experience span publishing, law, finance and the arts.

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Tim Duffy (Chair)

Tim Duffy is Chairman of M&C Saatchi (UK) Ltd.

He has worked in advertising for over 25 years, joining Saatchi and Saatchi in 1986.  In 1995 he was one of the founders of M&C Saatchi which now operates in 19 countries, and has specialist expertise in public relations, direct marketing, digital and mobile marketing.

He has a particular interest in communications strategy and has advised a range of blue chip companies, including British Airways, Procter and Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline, the National Lottery, Royal Bank of Scotland, Transport for London, and London 2012. He has worked extensively with government, most recently advising the Department of Health on its anti-obesity and cancer strategies.

His personal interests include political history and literature, and he is a judge for the 2014 Josephine Hart Poetry Awards.  Tim is Chair of the General Media Panel, part of the Advertising Standards Authority.

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Paul Aggett

Paul Aggett has worked in the financial services industry in the UK for over 20 years. Paul has been a finance director of a life and pensions group, a director of a financial services outsourcing supplier, a director of a general insurance broker, a director of a global asset management business and a chief executive of a European-wide property asset management business.

He is currently finance director of World Media Rights, a television media production company and finance director of Peters Fraser and Dunlop a literary agency.

His other interests include the theatre and assisting charities. He is a non-executive director to a financial services charitable trust and was formerly a director of a theatre company.

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Ekow Eshun

Ekow Eshun is a writer and broadcaster. The former director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, he is Chair of the Fourth  Plinth Commissioning Group, overseeing London’s most significant public art project. He appears frequently on TV and radio shows including the Today programme, Saturday Review and Channel 4 and his writing appears in publications including the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Independent, the Observer, the New Statesman, Vogue and Wired. His book, Black Gold of the Sun, was nominated for the Orwell prize for political writing.

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Paul Field

Paul Field is CEO Europe of TouchCast, a New York-based start-up working with major broadcasters, publishers and brands to produce interactive video. TouchCast has put all the key features of a broadcast TV studio inside an app – and enables the web to be experienced inside HD video.

Paul is also a Director of Higgaboom, a boutique content strategy and digital publishing consultancy, which also invests in and works with early stage start-ups focused on technologies disrupting traditional media.

Until December 2013 Paul was Publisher and Editor of Mail Plus, a premium, paid-for digital brand for the Daily Mail, where he was also Associate Editor. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of the Irish Daily Mail and Irish Mail on Sunday, and Executive Editor of the Mail on Sunday.

Paul divides his time between London and his family home on the Suffolk coast.

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Isabel Hilton

Isabel Hilton is a writer and broadcaster based in London. She is founding editor of chinadialogue.net, an innovative, fully bilingual Chinese-English website devoted to building a shared approach on climate change and environmental issues with China. She has reported extensively from South and East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

In addition to her writing career, she has made several radio and television documentaries and has presented for BBC Radio Three and Four.

A founding trustee of Free Word, she is also a trustee of the British American Project. She has served as a member of the Editorial Board of International Affairs, the Advisory Boards of the Latin America Bureau and the European Movement. She is a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the British Association of China Scholars, the Society of Authors and the advisory board of the Asia Society’s Arthur Ross Centre. She is a fellow of the Asia Society in New York, the Royal Society of Arts, and the British American Project.

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Deeyah Khan

Deeyah Khan is a critically acclaimed music producer and Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director. Her work highlights human rights, women’s voices and freedom of expression. Her skill as a multidisciplinary artist led her to music and film as the language for her social activism. Born in Norway to immigrant parents of Pashtun and Punjabi ancestry, the experience of living between different cultures, both the beauty and the challenges, dominates her artistic vision.

Her 2012 multi-award winning documentary Banaz: A Love Story chronicles the life and death of Banaz Mahmod, a young British Kurdish woman killed in 2006 in London. This murder was a so-called honour killing by her family. Deeyah’s second film Jihad involved two years of interviews and filming with Islamic extremists, convicted terrorists and former jihadis. She has also received several awards for her work supporting freedom of expression, human rights and peace, including the Ossietzky prize by Norwegian PEN and in 2015, the University of Oslo’s Human Rights Award.  The focus of her work and access to voices that are often overlooked and misunderstood has led to increasing demand as a speaker at international human rights events and platforms including the United Nations.

Deeyah is the founder and CEO of social purpose arts and media production company, Fuuse which works at the intersection of art and activism. Fuuse aims to create intercultural dialogue and understanding by confronting the most complex and controversial topics, and sharing alternative views and excluded perspectives.

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Ursula Owen

Ursula Owen has been an influential figure in the worlds of literature and free expression since the 1970s. She was a founder director of Virago Press, for two years cultural policy advisor to the Labour Party, and, as editor and chief executive, revitalised Index on Censorship.

From 2003 to 2009 Ursula was project director for the Free Word Centre, taking it through from an idea to a concrete reality with premises in London. She is now founder trustee of Free Word. She is on the board of the Southbank Centre and a trustee of English Touring Opera and World Film Collective.

She was awarded an OBE in 2003 and lives in London.

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Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak is Turkey’s most-read woman writer and an award-winning novelist. She writes in both English and Turkish, and has published 14 books, 9 of which are novels, including: The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love, Honour, and her non-fiction memoir, Black Milk. Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her latest novel, The Architect’s Apprentice, was published by Penguin UK in 2014.

Shafak blends Western and Eastern traditions of storytelling, bringing out the voices of women, minorities, subcultures, immigrants and global souls. Her works reflects a strong interest in history, philosophy, culture, mysticism, intercultural dialogue and gender equality.

Shafak is a public speaker and works with The London Speaker Bureau and Chartwell Speakers. She is regularly invited to give talks in major universities, corporations, international organizations, festivals and charities, both in the UK and across the world.

Shafak is also a political scientist and a commentator, and has written for several international publications.

She is a TED Global speaker, a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy and a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

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Philip Tranter

Philip Tranter is Company Secretary of Guardian Media Group plc (publisher of the Guardian) and its parent, The Scott Trust Limited.

Prior to taking up his role with the Guardian he practised as a solicitor and has over 25 years’ experience as a partner in law firms in London and the Thames Valley, latterly with Boyes Turner LLP a leading regional law firm where he led the Corporate Group until December 2010. He has particular experience working with clients from the media, technology and marketing services sectors.  He has been a trustee of a small, grant-making charity since its inception in 1997.

Outside professional life, his interests include political biography and literature, music and the arts generally. Noisy therapy comes in the form of his Harley-Davidson and occasional gigs wielding a bass guitar.

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Part of Wanderlust

Your Perfect Translated Summer Read

Wanderlust: Great Literature from Around the World

Lose yourself in great stories from around the world as our Wanderlust series goes digital for July! We’ve got a quiz to guide you to your perfect Summer Read with the latest translated titles; what are you waiting for?

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Explore - Highlight

Introducing our new Director, Roma Backhouse

  • By Sophie Freeman
  • 30th June 2016

We are excited to announce that Roma Backhouse will succeed Rose Fenton in September 2016. Free Word will continue to work internationally to bring communities, organisations and individuals together through the belief that words change lives.