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Professor in Durham Law SchoolPCL118+44 (0) 191 33 42837


Clare McGlynn is a Professor of Law with particular expertise in the legal regulation of pornography, image-based sexual abuse (including ‘revenge porn’ and 'upskirting') and sexual violence. She qualified as a solicitor with City firm Herbert Smith Freehills and in 2020 was appointed an Honorary QC in recognition of her work championing equality for women in the legal profession and shaping new criminal laws on extreme pornography and image-based sexual abuse.

She has held a Chair in Law at Durham Univerity since 2004 and has served as Deputy Head of the Law School and Deputy Head of the Faculty of Social Sciences (Research) from 2012-2015 when she had specific responsibility for diversity & equality, research strategy and the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014). She was a member of the University’s Taskforce on Sexual Violence , a member of the University’s governing body, University Council from 2014-2018 and from 2015-2019 the Director of the University's ESRC Impact Acceleration Account which provides funding and support for research impact across the social sciences. She has been appointed to the REF2021 Law Assessment Panel. She is a member of the UK Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel hearing appeals in cases of sexual misconduct, bullying and harassment.

Image-based sexual abuse: Clare’s research (with Erika Rackley) developed the concept of image-based sexual abuse which better explains the nature and extent of the harms of all forms of non-consensual taking and/or sharing of private sexual images (including ‘revenge porn’ and 'upskirting'). Her research recommends specific laws to combat this phenomenon which recognise women’s rights to privacy, dignity and sexual expression and extend to cover practices such as ‘upskirting’. Working closely with politicians, policy-makers and voluntary organisations, her research has played a key role in national debates and law reform campaigns. She gave evidence before the Scottish Justice Committee on proposed reforms in Scotland, as well as before the Women & Equalities Select Committee recommending urgent reform to laws on ‘upskirting’. She has given presentations to academics and policy-makers on these issues across Europe, North American, Korea and Australia, and she is regularly cited in national policy debates and media. She also works with tech companies, including Facebook, TikTok and Google to improve their policies and enhance support for victim-survivors. 

She is a co-author of the recently published books Cyberflashing: recognising harms, reforming laws (2021) and Image-Based Sexual Abuse: a study on the causes and consequences of non-consensual imagery (2021).

Justice for Sexual Violence Survivors: Clare has investigated (with Nicole Westmarland) the possibilities of restorative justice in cases of sexual violence, as well as for domestic abuse. They have worked closely with sexual violence survivors to better understand their perspectives on justice, developing the concept of kaleidoscopic justice. Clare’s earlier work on sexual violence focused on feminist activism and strategy, particularly around the granting of anonymity to rape defendants and the definition of torture in human rights law. Her British Academy funded conference Rethinking Rape Law resulted in the publication of Rethinking Rape Law: international and comparative perspectives (co-edited with Munro).

Sexual History Evidence in Rape Trials: Clare’s research has identified the flaws with the current laws on sexual history evidence in sexual offence trials. Her blog and policy briefing set out how the law can and should be reformed.

Regulating Extreme Pornography: Clare’s research (with Erika Rackley) justifies the criminalisation of some forms of extreme pornography on the basis of its cultural harm. This research influenced law reform campaigns, including (‘ban Rape Porn’), which led to new criminal laws in England & Wales and Scotland. The impact of Clare’s research in this field was recognised as world-leading (4*) in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (read the full case study here). Her work has been widely debated including in The Guardian, the Observer, the Independent and on the BBC. Clare has discussed this research on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour and Law in Action (see also research briefing). Her research advances liberal justifications for pornography regulation and has been funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.

Research interests

  • Restorative Justice and Sexual Violence
  • Rape law and policy
  • image-based sexual abuse ('revenge porn')
  • Feminist Judgments and women in the legal profession
  • Legal Regulation of Pornography

Research groups

Research Projects

  • Grants

Awarded Grants

  • 2019: The #metoo Momentum And Its Aftermath: Digital Justice Seeking And Societal And Legal Responses(£56115.45 from )
  • 2017: Revenge Pornography - The implications for law reform(£15059.74 from Australian Research Council)
  • 2011: Reforming Pornography Law: liberal justifications (2011, Leverhulme Research Fellowship)
  • 2008: RETHINKING RAPE LAW(£4472.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2007: Positions on the Politics of Porn (2007, Socio-Legal Studies Association)
  • 2003: European Family Values: law, politics and pluralism (AHRC)

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Law & Crime: rape law, regulation of pornography, violence against women, gender and criminal law


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • McGlynn, C (2018). Why laws on sexual history evidence still need reform. Huffington Post
  • McGlynn, C. (2018). The law must protect all victims of image-based sexual abuse, not just 'upskirting'. Huffington Post
  • McGlynn, Clare (2018). The Upskirting Bill Must Focus On Victims, Not Perpetrators' Motives. Huffington Post
  • McGlynn, Clare & Rackley, Erika (2017). Why ‘upskirting’ needs to be made a sex crime. The Conversation
  • McGlynn, Clare & O'Donoghue, Aoife (2017). Policing Upskirting: it’s serious, not funny. Huffington Post
  • McGlynn, Clare & Rackley, Erika (2015). New law on 'revenge porn' is 'unlikely'to tackle hackers distributing intimate images. Holyrood
  • McGlynn, Clare & Rackley, Erika (2015). More than just 'revenge porn': tackling the misuse of private sexual images. Holyrood
  • McGlynn, Clare & Rackley, Erika (2015). The new law against 'revenge porn' is welcome, but no guarantee of success. The Conversation
  • McGlynn, Clare & Downes, Julia (2015). Why we need a new law to combat 'upskirting' and 'downblousing'. Inherently Human
  • McGlynn, Clare & Rackley, Erika (2014). The law must focus on consent when it tackles revenge porn. The Conversation
  • McGlynn, Clare & Rackley, Erika (2014). Why criminalise the possession of rape pornography? New Statesman
  • McGlynn, C (2009). Is big brother in the bedroom? No. The Scotsman (Sunday 18 January 2009 ).
  • McGlynn, C & Rubens, T (1998). Some way to go before we find equality. The Times
  • McGlynn, C. (1998). A law unto themselves? Times higher educational supplement
  • McGlynn, C (1997). The time is ripe for parental leave. The Times
  • McGlynn, C (1997). Where men still rule. The Times

Other (Print)

  • McGlynn, C, Rackley, E & Westmarland, N (2007). Positions on the Politics of Porn: a debate on Government plans to criminalise the possession of extreme pornography.


Supervision students