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Bristol's first ever student law conference [Fri 8 March]

Press release issued: 27 February 2013

Following the highly publicised Leveson Inquiry, some of the country’s leading minds in the field of law and the media will be discussing the often contentious relationship between the two at the first ever Bristol Law conference on Friday 8 March 2013.

Following the highly publicised Leveson Inquiry, some of the country’s leading minds will be discussing the often contentious relationship between the law and the media at the first Bristol Law conference on Friday 8 March 2013.

The event, which coincides with the Law School’s 80th anniversary, aims to provoke wide-ranging discussion and debate on some of the legal and ethical issues surrounding the system of press regulation.

Speakers at the event include Lord Hunt, the current Chair of the Press Complaints Commission, who will be discussing the culture, practices and ethics of the Press, Chief Constable Nick Gargan, who will be speaking about the relationship between the police and the media, and Baroness Hale, the highest ranking female judge in the UK who sits in the Supreme Court (and Chancellor of the University) who will be talking about the pros and cons of a more visible Supreme Court.

The event is followed by a Q & A panel discussion about the challenges social media and the internet pose for the law with Gillian Phillips, Director of Editorial Legal Services for Guardian News & Media and Professor Lorna Woods, co-director of the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism at City University London.

Ross Burrell and Steven Hunter, co-founders and co-ordinators of the conference, said: “We will be showcasing some of the most eminent academic, professional and student legal minds in the country, inspiring debate on one of the most topical and complex issues faced by the British media and legal system to date.”

Professor Celia Wells, Head of the University of Bristol Law School, added: “I am immensely proud of the enterprise shown by our students. This conference has been initiated and organised by final year undergraduates, Steven Hunter and Ross Burrell. With a first-class line-up of speakers I hope that this will be the first of many student-led conferences here at the University of Bristol Law School.”

The one-day event, co-founded by final-year Bristol Law LLB students Steven Hunter and Ross Burrell, is funded by Burges Salmon, Osborne Clarke, Bond Pearce, Linklaters and the University’s Alumni Foundation. The event will be held in the University of Bristol’s Wills Memorial Building on Friday 8 March 2013 from 1 pm to 4 pm and is free for all University students to attend on registration at the Bristol Law Conference website. You can also interact with the conference’s organisers through Twitter (BristolLC) and Facebook (


Further information

About the speakers

Lord Hunt

David Hunt was the MP for Wirral from 1976 to 1997 and a member of the Government from 1979 to 1995, serving in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales, Secretary of State for Employment and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, when he stepped down to become Senior Partner of the international commercial law firm, DAC Beachcroft, where he has now been a partner since 1969. He became Chair of the Press Complaints Commission in October 2011 and is also Non-Executive Chairman of the Lending Standards Board.

The Right Honourable the Baroness Hale of Richmond

The Right Honourable the Baroness Hale of Richmond was officially installed as the University’s seventh Chancellor on 12 March 2004, succeeding Sir Jeremy Morse who retired at the end of 2003. Lady Hale became one of the UK’s 12 Law Lords in January 2004 – the only woman ever to hold such a position. She studied Law at Cambridge and received a starred First for exceptional distinction in that subject. In 1966 she became an academic at the University of Manchester, eventually specialising in social welfare and family law. She also studied at the Bar, topping the list in the Bar finals in 1968 and then practising part time as a barrister. In 1984, Brenda Hale became the youngest person and the first woman ever to be appointed to the Law Commission. Over the course of a decade she instigated a number of key reforms. She led the work that produced the Children Act 1989 – a radical re-casting of the relationship between parents, children and the State – and the important domestic violence legislation that formed part of the Family Law Act 1996. She was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1989, a High Court judge in 1994 (the first to be appointed from academia) and a Lady Justice of Appeal in 1999 – only the second woman to reach that position.

Nick Gargan

Nick Gargan is the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary. He is the Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) for the Information Systems Improvement Strategy as well as for the IMPACT Programme – delivering the Police National Database to policing in response to Lord Bichard’s recommendation. Nick’s police career began in Leicestershire Constabulary in 1988. He served in a variety of uniform and detective roles in and around Leicester before commencing a three-year secondment to the National Criminal Intelligence Service in 1995. During his secondment he was based both in London and Paris. In Paris, he worked extensively in support of the investigation into the death of the Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed – subsequently giving evidence at the inquest. On his return to Leicestershire in 1998, Nick performed a variety of roles including Detective Superintendent, Head of Crime Squads and Basic Command Unit Commander for Leicestershire East area. He transferred to Thames Valley Police at the beginning of 2006. He was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the 2012 New Year’s Honours list.

Gillian Phillips

Gill is a media law specialist. She currently works in-house as the Director of Editorial Legal Services for Guardian News & Media Limited (publishers of the Guardian and Observer newspapers and She advises on a range of content-related matters including defamation, privacy, contempt of court and reporting restrictions. She read History (Part I) and Law (Part II) at Selwyn College Cambridge. She trained at Coward (now Clifford) Chance and spent three years PQE in the litigation department there specialising in commercial / civil litigation. In 1987, she escaped from private practice, joining the BBC as an in-house lawyer dealing with pre and post publication and litigation matters. Between 1996/7 she was an in-house lawyer at News Group Newspapers (The Sun & The News of the World) before moving, in 1997, to the College of Law, where she lectured in Civil and Criminal Litigation and Employment. In 2000, she joined Times Newspapers Limited (publishers of The Times and The Sunday Times) as an in-house lawyer, becoming Head of Litigation. In May 2009, she moved to Guardian News & Media Limited. She was a member of the Ministry of Justice’s Working Group on Libel Reform. She was involved in the Trafigura super injunction case and was a member of the Master of the Rolls Injunction Committee. She has recently been involved in advising the Guardian on phone-hacking, Wikileaks and the Leveson Inquiry. She also sits as a part-time Employment Tribunal Judge and co-authors the College of Law Employment Law handbook.

Professor Lorna Woods

Professor Woods is co-director of the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism at City University London and a professor in The City Law School. Formerly a practising solicitor in an ICT practice, she has extensive experience in the field of media policy, communications regulation and freedom of expression and privacy, and she has published widely in this area (recently editing a collection on Freedom of Expression and the Media, Martinus Nijhoff, 2012). She is a recognised expert in the field having participated in a range of studies, such as UK country expert in Hans Bredow Study on Co-regulation in the Media; rapporteur at the UNESCO regional conference forming part of the contribution to the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on the ethical dimension of the information society and participant at the WSIS+10 Review Event; participation in the FRA event at the OSCE meeting ‘Freedom of Expression on the Internet – Possibilities and Challenges’ (2009); and has given evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications with regards to plurality of provision of content and media ownership. She is currently researching the impact of Article 10 ECHR positive obligations on media and communications regulation.

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