Dr Samantha Fairclough

Dr Samantha Fairclough

Birmingham Law School

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.


Journal Articles

  • 'Using Hawkins' surround, field and frames concepts to understand special measures decision-making in Crown Court trials' (2018) 45(4)Journal of Law and Society 457
  • ‘Speaking up for Injustice: Reconsidering the provision of special measures through the lens of equality’ [2018] Criminal Law Review 4-19
  • ‘“It doesn’t happen ... and I’ve never thought it was necessary for it to happen”: Barriers to vulnerable defendants giving evidence by live link in Crown Court trials’ (2017) 21(3) International Journal of Evidence and Proof 209


  • ‘The Victim in Court’ in Sandra Walklate (ed) Victims and Victimology (Routledge 2017) 211-228 (with Imogen Jones)


View all publications in research portal


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