Law Professor. Advisor. Commentator.
Expert on Violence Against Women & Girls
I undertake a range of consultancy and advisory roles supporting people and organisations in the field of sexual violence and misconduct, bullying and harassment. This includes:
advising governments, civil society and social media companies on law and policy reforms;
advising universities on developing sexual misconduct policies, as well as undertaking investigations and determining sanctions;
membership of Parliamentary bodies hearing sexual misconduct and bullying complaints.
In my general academic role, I also undertake work to support law schools and universities to develop their research strategies and to assess research and impact work.
Member of Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel on Sexual Misconduct and Bullying
In November 2020, I was appointed to the UK Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel which determines appeals and sanctions in cases where complaints have been brought against MPs of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS). It also hears appeals against decisions by the Committee on Standards from MPs who have been found to have breached the Code of Conduct for MPs. The Panel is entirely independent, with no MPs taking part in its decisions.
I have participated in a number of the Panel decisions and appeals. The reports are all available here.
Supporting social media companies to respond to victim’s interests and review policies
I have worked with a range of social media organisations to help improve their understanding of victims’ experiences of image-based sexual abuse and support their policy development. This has included closed consultations, debates and presentations on my research including with Facebook, Google and TikTok.
In 2018 I addressed Facebook’s Global Safety Team at their HQ in Silicon Valley, together with Kelly Johnson, where we presented our research on the harms of image based sexual abuse. We subsequently participated in a number of consultations on the development of their policies on non-consensual intimate imagery, resulting in some policy changes.
Consultant to Council of Europe, Violence Against Women Division
In 2022, I was commissioned by the Council of Europe Division on Violence Against Women to draft the preparatory work for a new Thematic Paper on the Digital Dimension of Violence Against Women and Girls. This Paper was adopted by the United Nations group of independent human rights organisations monitoring violence against women (EDVAW) which includes the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and GREVIO which monitors implementation of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention. Read this news story for more information.
Universities and Sexual Misconduct: investigator, advisor, policy development
Over the last ten years, I have undertaken a range of consultancy and decision-making roles regarding sexual violence and misconduct within universities, including undertaking investigations and advising on developing sexual misconduct policies and procedures. I’ve also worked on developing training resources, such as Epigeum’s online courses.
At Durham University, I was a member of the Taskforce on Sexual Violence and Misconduct set up in 2014 and which was one of the first such bodies in the UK. I helped to write the university’s first policy on sexual violence and misconduct and have undertaken a number of investigations. I am currently a member of the University’s Senate Discipline Committee which determines cases involving breach of university policies, including sexual misconduct.
REF2021: research and impact assessor, policy advisor and consultant
Every 6-7 years, approximately £2billion of UK Government funding of universities is allocated following a process of expert assessment of research strength and innovation – called the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The assessment is undertaken by expert panels appointed by UKRI, a non-departmental governmental body. I was a member of the REF2021 Law Panel, responsible for the assessment of outputs, impact and environment.
In my academic role, I submitted a case study for assessment – on the reform of laws on extreme pornography and image-based sexual abuse – in REF2021 and REF2014.
I have advised many Law Schools on the development of research policy and strategy, as well as undertaking assessments of outputs and impact case studies.
Advisory Board Member for Minerva Platform for Recording Online Abuse
Minerva is a new secure standalone platform which will be a central hub for victims to report and remove harmful, abusive or inappropriate online content. It is being developed by SWGfL, which also runs the Revenge Porn Helpline, and is funded by the UK Government.
I am a member of the project Advisory Board, helping to steer its development. I have contributed to Minerva’s public engagement and blogs, explaining why greater support for victims is needed and how online abuse silences women.
My experience as a charity board trustee includes being a Board Member, including a period as Secretary, at Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland for nearly ten years (2010-2019).
I have also been a Board Member of Durham University’s Trustee Board (University Council), including a period as member of the Finance Committee (2014-2018).
Advisory Board Member for Australian Image-Based Sexual Abuse project developing Chatbot to support victims
I am an Advisory Board member for the Australian project developing Umibot which is a chatbot supporting victims of image-based sexual abuse to gain support and get material removed from the internet. This is another excellent example of how technology is being harnessed to support victims and provide various forms of redress.