About Clare McGlynn
I am a Professor of Law with particular expertise in the legal regulation of pornography, sexual violence and online abuse, particularly cyberflashing and image-based sexual abuse (taking, creating and sharing intimate images without consent). I qualified as a solicitor with City firm Herbert Smith Freehills and took up a Lectureship at Newcastle University before moving to a Readership at Durham University in 1999. I was appointed Professor of Law in 2004.
Awards & Appointments
My expertise and leadership have been recognised nationally and internationally. In 2020, I was appointed an Honorary KC (Kings Counsel) in recognition of my work championing equality for women in the legal profession and shaping new criminal laws on extreme pornography and image-based sexual abuse. I am also an Academic Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court that govern the barristers’ profession in England & Wales. I am a member of the UK Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel hearing appeals in cases of sexual misconduct, bullying and harassment against MPs. I was a member of the REF2021 Law Assessment Panel appointed to assess the quality of UK academic research. In 2018, I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law from Lund University, Sweden, in recognition of the international impact of my research on violence against women and girls. From 2018-2021, I held the Hedda Andersson Visiting Professorship at Lund University. I am also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. The impact of my research was recognised as world-leading (4*) in the 2014 and 2021 Research Excellence Frameworks assessments (REFs) (read the full case studies here and here).
Law Professor. Advisor. Commentator.
Expert on Violence Against Women & Girls
I have served as Deputy Head of Durham Law School, and Deputy Head of Durham University’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Health (Research) from 2012-2015 when I had specific responsibility for diversity & equality, research strategy and the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014). I was a founding member of the University’s Taskforce on Sexual Violence and Misconduct, and I currently a member of the University’s Senate Discipline Committee. I was a trustee of the University and member of the University’s governing body, University Council, from 2014-2018.
In 2015, I took up the position as the first Director of the University's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account which provides funding and support for research impact across the social sciences. Over the years, I have been a member of the University’s Ethics Committee, Promotions Committee, Research Committee, Finance Committee and the Diversity and Equality Advisory Group.
My current work focuses on sexual violence, pornography and online abuse against women and girls. I am the co-author of the books Cyberflashing: recognising harms, reforming laws (2021) and Image-Based Sexual Abuse: a study on the causes and consequences of non-consensual nude or sexual imagery (2021). It was my research (with Erika Rackley) that first developed the concept of image-based sexual abuse, a term and concept that better explains the nature and extent of forms of abuse often labelled separately as upskirting, ‘revenge porn’, deepfake porn, downblousing and so on. I have worked closely with politicians, victims and civil society to improve laws nationally and across the world to better tackle online abuse. I gave oral evidence to numerous parliamentary inquiries and select committees including on pornography regulation, the Online Safety Bill, restorative justice, on sexual harassment in public and law reform proposals on upskirting. My oral evidence to the Northern Ireland Justice Committee led to the introduction of a new cyberflashing offence in Northern Ireland. I have contributed my expertise to significant BBC documentaries, media discussions such as many appearances on BBC Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4 Today and ITV news.
My pornography research with Fiona Vera-Gray and others has revealed the extent of sexually violent porn on mainstream websites, drawing on the largest dataset of online porn collected to date. This landmark study has been extensively reported nationally and internationally including in the Sunday Times and New York Times, as well as providing the evidence base for many campaigns across the world for greater regulation of pornography. My extreme pornography research with colleagues provided the basis for law reforms criminalising rape pornography introduced in 2015, justifying reform on the basis of rape pornography’s cultural harm and regulation being human rights enhancing. Following introduction of the new law, my research with Hannah Bows using new FOIs revealed significant prosecutions for bestiality, rather than rape, images.
Justice for Sexual Violence Victims
I am currently part of the pioneering Home Office funded Project Soteria seeking to transform rape investigations. This role draws on my research investigating what sexual violence survivors understand as ‘justice’, developing the idea of kaleidoscopic justice to reflect the fluidity and variety of victims’ justice perspectives. This work with Nicole Westmarland has also examined the possibilities of using restorative justice in cases of sexual violence, as well as for domestic abuse. This research is part of my broader work on sexual violence, including foundational work on sexual history evidence in rape trials (briefing here) and my co-edited book Rethinking Rape Law: international and comparative perspectives (2010).
My research and policy work raises awareness of the harms of cyberflashing – also known as sending unsolicited dick pics – and makes recommendations for new laws criminalising this commonplace and pernicious form of abuse. This work has played a central role in the recent public campaigns to introduce a new cyberflashing criminal offence in England & Wales, and Northern Ireland, providing justifications for action and draft legislative proposals. It draws on my book Cyberflashing: recognising harms, reforming laws, written with Kelly Johnson, and more recent research on a consent-based criminal law is required: with a two-page summary here.
Human Rights & EU Law
My expertise also lies in the broad fields of human rights law and European Union law. In 2022, I co-authored the preparatory work for the first Thematic Paper on the Digital Dimension of Violence Against Women adopted by UN, Council of Europe and other violence against women human rights monitoring bodies. I am also co-author of a 2022 study of the EU’s proposed directive on violence against women and co-wrote an expert opinion for German organisation Hate Aid on the EU’s Digital Services Act. This work builds on my previous EU research including the landmark book Families and the European Union: law, politics and pluralism (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and research on rape as a form of torture under the European Convention of Human Rights.
My earlier work focused on equality in the legal profession and feminist perspectives on judging. My pioneering book The Woman Lawyer: making the difference (1998) was the first book-length study into the status of women in law, from universities to the judiciary. In 2010, I co-founded the Feminist Judgments Project where a group of scholars put theory into practice in judgment form, by writing the ‘missing’ feminist judgments in key cases, publishing the book Feminist Judgments: from theory to practice (2010). This work has since inspired feminist judgments projects across the world, with groups of scholars re-writing judgments across India, Australia, Scotland, North/Ireland and the US, and in specific areas of substantive law, including children’s rights, international law and indigenous law.