"A World Without Walls":

An International Congress on "Soft Power", Cultural Diplomacy and Interdependence

(Berlin; November 6th - 9th, 2009)

Merethe Stagetorn

Defense Lawyer for the Danish Supreme Court

Merethe Stagetorn was born on October 26th, 1942 and graduated from the Cathedral School, Roskilde in 1960. In 1961 she studied at the International People’s College in Elsinore, Denmark. She graduated in law from Copenhagen University in 1965 and went on to study law of succession, property law and law of penal procedure until 1992.

In 1977 Stagetorn opened her own law firm, which still exists, currently under the name of Stagetorn, Wenzel and Lund Poulsen. During the years Stagetorn has been QC has been one of the most difficult and most spectacular criminal cases in Denmark and is widely respected as an eminent defence lawyer with a high degree of personal integrity.

Among the most prominent cases Merethe Stagetorn has been involved in are those concerning freedom of speech.  Stagetorn represented Pia Kjærsgaard, the leader of Denmark’s second largest party in a case, deriving from the well-known Muhammed cartoons.  Pia Kjærsgaard was accused of trespassing the border of freedom of speech by publicly stating ‘that by travelling in the Middle East showing the cartoons and thereby raising hate and aggression towards Denmark they behaved as betrayers’.  She was acquitted. Merethe Stagetorn also represented Mogens Glistrup, former chairman of a large right-wing party in numerous cases of freedom of speech.

Stagetorn has recently participated in many public debates and has written several books, among which Law of Succession, Environmental Law and The Queens Council. The latter has been published in 6 editions, the last one in 2008, covering a number of issues in the Danish penal system. Stagetorn has been public representative on Bank Boards and the Ministry of Justice Council on Penal Procedure.  Likewise she has been advisor to the Danish Bar Association on penal law matters.

Deriving from her knowledge of law of succession, she is now chairman of several non-profit foundations.

During her time in Berlin, Stagetorn will speak of the legal and political importance of the freedom of speech, as a means to create a World Without Walls.