Samantha Fairclough

Samantha Fairclough

Birmingham Law School
Visiting Lecturer
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

Title of thesis: Is the law of special measures sufficiently committed to the principles which traditionally underpin the rules of evidence?

Supervisors: Dr Imogen Jones and Professor Hilary Sommerlad

Funding: ESRC



  • LLB (Hons) Law with Criminology (University of Manchester)
  • MRes Criminology and Socio-legal Studies (University of Manchester)


Throughout my undergraduate degree my interests were firmly rooted in the more socio-legal and criminological modules that I studied; particularly in issues arising from debates around criminal law, criminal evidence and criminal justice. Following the completion of a criminal evidence module, I became increasingly interested in the treatment of witnesses throughout criminal trials and the conceptualisation of miscarriages of justice.


  • Criminal Law

Doctoral research

PhD title Is the law of special measures sufficiently committed to the principles which traditionally underpin the rules of evidence?
Supervisors Dr Imogen Jones and Professor Hilary Sommerlad
Course Law PhD / PhD by Distance Learning / MPhil / MJur


This thesis considers whether, where the provision of special measures to vulnerable and intimidated witnesses and defendants is concerned, the law is sufficiently committed to the principles of criminal evidence.  It is proposed that, in order to consider this fully, an examination of the law should be multi-layered.  This project brings together, therefore, a doctrinal analysis of the statutory provisions of special measures (Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999) and the appellate court decisions pertaining to them, as well as a small-scale empirical study.  The empirical element is achieved through 18 qualitative interviews with practising trial judges, barristers and solicitors, which, while not deducing findings generalisable to the whole profession, provides an insight into the operation of the law in practice in Crown Court trials. 

Other activities

  • Links to the legal profession have been facilitated by CEPLER

Student Rep:

  • Law PGR Board (2013-14)
  • PGCARMS Staff-Student Liaison Committee (2013-present)

Conference organisation:

  • Birmingham Law School Conference (June 2014): ‘Transcending Boundaries’
  • 3rd Annual Midland DTC ESRC conference (June 2014): ‘Research Matters’
  • Birmingham Law School Conference (June 2015): ‘Law’s Impact in the Real World’

Conference Papers:

  • University College Cork (June 2014): 'Unequal Justice? Examining the availability of special measures to defendant and non-defendant witnesses'
  • University of Birmingham (June 2014): ‘Can we justify denying, or at least limiting, defendants’ access to special measures?’
  • University of Leicester (May 2015): ‘Assistance of Vulnerable Defendants in Criminal Trials’ – Won 1st prize in ‘Best Paper’ competition
  • The Advocate’s Gateway International Conference (June 2015): ‘Defendants and live-link’

Funding bid:

  • Funding secured for Law PGR conference, June 2015, from College of Arts and Law (£597.68)


  • Multiple delivery of University outreach programme workshop: ‘Could you give evidence in court?’ (2014-15)
  • Assisted Dr. Malkani on the launch of the pro-bono project ‘Criminal Appeals Assistance Unit’ (2014-15)
  • Discussion of my preliminary research findings on defendants and special measures use with Law Commission in relation to their on-going project on ‘Fitness to Plead’ (August 2015)