Dr Samantha Fairclough

Dr Samantha Fairclough

Birmingham Law School
Associate Professor in Law

Contact details

Birmingham Law School
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Samantha joined Birmingham Law School as a lecturer in September 2017. Prior to this, she was here as an ESRC funded PhD student. During this time, she contributed to teaching on various LLB degrees at the Law School and held a position as a Teaching Fellow from 2016-17.

Her current research centres on the treatment of the vulnerable in Crown Court trials, specifically at the point at which they give evidence in court. More generally, her research and teaching interests lie in the fields of criminal evidence, law and justice and specifically on the way in which the defendant is treated versus other participants in criminal trials.


  • LLB (Hons) Law with Criminology (University of Manchester)
  • MRes Criminology and Socio-legal Studies (University of Manchester)
  • PhD (Birmingham)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods and Skills


Samantha graduated from the University of Manchester with a first class honours degree in Law with Criminology and a Research Masters in Criminology and Socio-legal Studies. She came to the University of Birmingham in September 2013 to complete a fully funded PhD. She was supervised by Professor Richard Young and Dr Imogen Jones (Leeds). Her doctoral thesis explored the role of equality in the provision of special measures to vulnerable and/or intimidated court users in Crown Court trials. As part of this project, Samantha conducted interviews with a sample of solicitors and barristers practising in Crown Courts. From these interviews, Samantha has the only data providing an insight into the use of live link and screens by defendants in criminal trials.

Samantha won the ‘Michael K O.Rourke Best PhD Publication Prize’ at the University of Birmingham in June 2017 for her article on defendants and the live link.

Samantha was made Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2016.


  • Criminal Law
  • Criminology
  • Law in Action
  • Criminal Evidence and Proof (LLM)
  • Legal Connections (LLB)
  • Criminal Law for Grads
  • Law in Action for Grads


Samantha’s published work from her doctoral thesis has been cited by the Law Commission in their report on unfitness to plead, and in The Advocate’s Gateway toolkits on best practice for dealing with vulnerable participants in court. These toolkits have been endorsed by the Lord Chief Justice.

Samantha’s next project will look at the admissibility of bad character evidence in criminal trials for the prosecution and defence. This will draw on empirical data from interviews with members of the legal profession. She also plans to conduct further empirical research into the use of special measures in criminal trials and the attitudes of practitioners surrounding this.


Recent publications


Dehaghani, R, Fairclough, S & Mergaerts, L (eds) 2023, Vulnerability, the Accused, and the Criminal Justice System: Multi-jurisdictional Perspectives. Routledge Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice and Procedure, Routledge, London. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003205166


Rowsell, K, Kloess, J, Fairclough, S & Colloff, M 2023, '"Every Young Person is Different”: A Qualitative Analysis of Professionals’ Perspectives on the Introduction of Section 28 Pre-Trial Cross-examination', Thames Valley Police Journal, vol. 8, pp. 43-60. <https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/foi-media/thames-valley-police/other_information/tvp-journal-volume-8-november-2023.pdf>

Fairclough, S, taggart, J & Backen, P 2023, 'Lost in translation? Perceptions of defendant intermediaries in the legal profession', Criminal Law Review, no. 7, pp. 440-461. <https://uk.westlaw.com/Document/I3D650AC0098011EEA91593E68EAA2C89/View/FullText.html>

Fairclough, S 2023, 'Resilience-building in adversarial trials: Witnesses, special measures, and the principle of orality', Social and Legal Studies, pp. 1-26. https://doi.org/10.1177/09646639231201913

Fairclough, S 2023, 'Section 28 pre-trial cross-examination: Barristers’ experiences and perceptions of its wider use in practice', Archbold Review, vol. 2023, no. 5, pp. 5. <https://uk.westlaw.com/Document/ICD95E920147F11EE84AEBF8582EB94E8/View/FullText.html>

Fairclough, S 2022, 'Special measures for vulnerable defendants: the who, what, when, where, why, and how', Archbold Review, no. 9, pp. 6-9. <https://uk.westlaw.com/Document/IF6C3AFB069FF11EDAAC8E1032F7A7B29/View/FullText.html>

Fairclough, S 2021, 'The consequences of unenthusiastic criminal justice reform: a special measures case study', Criminology and Criminal Justice, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 151-168. https://doi.org/10.1177/1748895819848804

Fairclough, S 2021, 'The lost leg of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act (1999): special measures and humane treatment', Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 41, no. 4, gqab014, pp. 1066-1095. https://doi.org/10.1093/ojls/gqab014

Fairclough, S 2018, 'Speaking up for Injustice: Reconsidering the provision of special measures through the lens of equality', Criminal Law Review, vol. 2018, no. 1, pp. 4-19.

Fairclough, S 2018, 'Using Hawkins’s surround, field and frames concepts to understand the complexities of special measures decision making in Crown Court trials', Journal of Law and Society, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 457-485. https://doi.org/10.1111/jols.12100

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Fairclough, S & Greenwood, H 2023, Vulnerable defendants, special measures, and miscarriages of justice in England and Wales. in R Dehaghani, S Fairclough & L Mergaerts (eds), Vulnerability, the Accused, and the Criminal Justice System: Multijurisdictional Perspectives. 1st edn, Routledge Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice and Procedure, Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003205166-14

Fairclough, S 2022, Vulnerability in the criminal trial. in E Johnston (ed.), Challenges in Criminal Justice. 1st edn, Routledge Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice and Procedure, Routledge, pp. 83-99. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003143321-6


Fairclough, S & Jones, I 2017, The victim in court. in S Walklate (ed.), Handbook of Victims and Victimology. 2nd edn, Routledge, London, pp. 211.

Book/Film/Article review

Fairclough, S 2018, 'John Jackson and Sarah Summers (eds), Obstacles to Fairness in Criminal Proceedings (Hart 2018)', The International Journal of Evidence and Proof. https://doi.org/10.1177/1365712718807355

Commissioned report

Fairclough, S 2020, Special measures literature review. Ministry of Justice (UK). <https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/jotwpublic-prod-storage-1cxo1dnrmkg14/uploads/sites/6/2021/12/OVC-Special-Measures-Literature-Review-July-2020.pdf>

View all publications in research portal


Treatment of the vulnerable in Crown Court trials, especially giving evidence