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Professor Helen Fenwick

Director of Academic Recruitment

Director of Academic Recruitment in the Durham Law School
Professor in the Durham Law School+44 (0) 191 33 42831
Associate Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study


Research Supervision

Mr Chris Wood

Ms Rachel Cullen

Ms Katherine Thompson

Mr Faris Al-Anaibi

Mr Kevin Crawley

Mr Kaushik Paul

Mr Mustafa Akgun

Ms Tara Beattie

Ms Fiona Brimblecombe

Ms Judith Skillen

My research interest lies in the field of civil liberties and human rights. Within that field my main interests are in counter-terrorist law and policy, media freedom of expression (in particular contempt law, obscenity law and privacy law), public protest, and the influence of the European Convention on Human Rights under the Human Rights Act. The publications listed below, in particular my two single-authored books, concentrate on those areas. My current research focuses on counter-terrorist measures, media freedom of expression and judicial reasoning under the Human Rights Act.

I am interested in supervising research students (for PhDs or Mjurs) in the following areas:  The Human Rights Act, Bills of Rights, counter-terrorism law and policy, privacy and media freedom, hate speech laws, English contempt law or obscenity law.

Teaching Areas

Media Law
Civil Liberties and Human Rights

Organisation and Promotion of Research
  • Human rights Consultant for Doughty Street Chambers, ongoing
  • Member of the Commonwealth Scolarship Commission in the United Kingdom (2016-2023)
  • 2005-9 Director of Research, Durham Law School; responsible for the RAE submission and Chair of the Research Committee
  • Co-Director of the Durham University Human Rights Centre 2001-2012
  • Convenor of the Civil Liberties and Human Rights Subject Section for the Society of Legal Scholars 2002-201
Digital Media
Selected Media Appearances
  • 26.9.17 interview with New Scientist on Schedule 7 Terrorism Act powers
  • 3.6.17 Gave paper jointly with Lord Justice Laws, Cumberland House, Berkshire, symposium on ‘Extremism: A Warning from History’
  • 24.6.17 Presentation on UK counter-terror measures to UN Expert group meeting on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination in the context of counter-terrorism, Budapest
  • Week of 22.5.17 range of interviews with regional radio stations and newspapers on counter-terror measures and the Manchester attack
  • 31.3.17 interview about the UK’s counterterrorism laws in relation to the first British woman to join a female militia in Syria The Times
  • 23.3.17 Interview for Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo on the attacks in London
  • 3.1.17 interview with BBC Radio 4 World at One, at 1.15, and BBC Radio 5 Live about Ryan Lock who died in Syria fighting ISIS; relevance of counter-terror measures
  • 30.11.16 ‘The Role of Parliaments in Overseeing Measures Implemented to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism’ for members and staff of the Assembly of Kosovo and parliamentary delegations from Western Balkan countries, Pristina, Kosovo
  • 28-29 April 2016: my work on non-trial-based counter-terror measures presented in an international conference at the Maison française d'Oxford: "The Rule of Crisis: Crisis legislation, emergency and rule of law from a comparative standpoint" 
  • 7.8.16 Raising The Bar 11am, BBC Radio 5 live - Series 2, Episode 3 on Control orders and counter-terrorism
  • 29.6.16 interview with Metro Radio on risk of ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in UK
  • 24.3.16a discussion on Islamic terrorism for Sputnik Radio 2 pm
  • 23.3.16 BBC Radio North East 8 a.m. Breakfast Show live – on Brussels attacks and security measures including surveillance
  • 22.3.16 a live skype interview with Russia Today, 11.50 on the Brussels attacks and counter-terror measures.
  • 22.3.16 Interview with Metro Radio on the Brussels attacks and their wider implications
  • 16.2.15 Interview with Wall Street Journalon use of CCTV, surveillance in Europe generally and the attacks in Copenhagen, journalist Schechner, Sam
  • 11.2.15 Interview with the Guardian, for piece by Emine Saner on British nationals returning from fighting not for ISIS, but against ISIS (with the Kurdish YPG army)
  • 22.8.14 Appeared on BBC News 24 to outline the existing laws available to the UK government to restrict the movement of UK nationals suspected of involvement with terrorist organisations.
  • 24.4.14 BBC South East Televised interview on British nationals fighting in Syria, terrorist offences.
  • 24.4.14 BBC 1 Live interview on British nationals fighting in Syria, terrorist offences 
  • 14.11.14 Live interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer LBC ‘Use of temporary exclusion orders against returnees from Syria and seizure of passports’
  • 4.4.15 LBC Radio, live phone interview with Ken Livingstone and David Mellor on Britons travelling to Syria
  • 11.12.13 Wall Street Journal interview on Lee Rigby murderers trial, reporter Alexis Flynn
  • 19.8.13 Aftenposten (Norwegian) Camerons høyest betrodde sendt for å presse The Guardian
Consultancy/Expert Advice

UN workJune 2014: gave 2 presentations and led a working group at the UN workshop in Tunisia for representatives from MENA nations (Saudia Arabia, Lebanon, Yemen, etc) on developing a framework for freedom of information in their countries

  • In March and April 2013 worked on comments on the draft UNODC freedom of expression tool. Attended UNODC International Expert Group Meeting on 11-12 April, Vienna, Vienna International Centre, involving 50 international experts from law, from journalism and from NGOs from around the world, 1 for each country represented; the meeting was the main event in the UNODC Initiative on Promoting Responsible and Professional Reporting on Corruption on the basis of the UN Convention against Corruption. July 2013 draft document circulated: Promoting Responsible and Professional Reporting on Corruption on the Basis of the United Nations Convention against Corruption; provided comments on: Journalistic Source Protection and intimidation of journalists, especially at borders (example of Miranda and Sched 7 Terrorism Act 2000); the right of access to information; self-regulation of the press; ‘citizen journalism’.  The freedom of expression tool will be finalized and promulgated to all the UN member states in late 2013.
  • Law Commission ongoing work on reform of contempt law: relates to my three chapters on contempt in Fenwick and Phillipson Media Freedom under the Human Rights Act (2006,OUP), and to my chapter in Borrie and Lowe on Contempt (Lexis Nexis, 4th edn 2010). Law Commission: Contempt of Court: A Consultation Paper (No 209) (2012). Chap 4 referred extensively to the three chaps on contempt I wrote in Media Freedom. I also wrote, with G Phillipson, a briefing note on the consultation for the Commission in November 2012.
  • Gave evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Enhanced Terrorism Prevention Measures Bill (ETPIM Bill) on 24th October 2012. The Committee was conducting pre-legislative scrutiny on the draft Bill, and reported to Parliament on November 9th 2012 with its recommendations (Draft Enhanced Terrorism Prevention Measures Bill: Report HL Paper 70, HC 495, 27.11.12) which included a range of references to my evidence (at pp6,18,25,26,30, 31). 
  • Universities UK, AREC and University of Warwick working in partnership 24.4.13 - training session for research ethics officers, research assistants, IT personnel: Counter-terrorism law and security research
  • Expert advisor for Liberty 2006
  • Advice on counter-terrorist policy to Canadian High Commissioner 2006
  • Expert assessor OSCE ODIHR Roundtable, Warsaw 2006
  • Council of Europe: expert advice on criminal justice and public order laws, Armenia, 2008, Moldova 2001
  • 2001 - present Human Rights Consultant for Doughty Street Chambers, London

Research interests

  • Counter-terrorist law and policy
  • Media freedom of expression (in particular contempt law, obscenity law and privacy law)
  • Public protest
  • Human Rights Act; proposals for a Bill of Rights


Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article



Supervision students