Skip to main content
Professor in the Durham Law School+44 (0) 191 33 42824


After graduating in law and completing a research degree at the University College of Wales Aberystwyth Ian Leigh practised as a solicitor with a large local authority. On returning to academic life he held posts at several UK universities before being appointed as a Professor of Law in Durham in 1997. He has also held visiting positions at the universities of Otago, Florida, Melbourne, Virginia and Osgoode Hall Law School.

His research interests span legal aspects of religious liberty and freedom of conscience, national security, human rights adjudication and local government law. He is author of four research monographs and has edited a further three books, as well as publishing more than 60 articles in academic journals and chapters in edited collections. These include articles in the Cambridge Law Journal, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, McGill Law Journal, Modern Law Review, Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Parliamentary Affairs, Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, Public Law, Res Publica and the Review of International Studies.

His most recent books are Ahdar and Leigh Religious Freedom in the Liberal State (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 2013), International Intelligence Cooperation and Accountability (Routledge, 2011, edited with Hans Born and Aidan Wills). and (edited, with Roger Masterman) Rights Protection under the UK’s Statutory Bill of Rights: Constitutional and Comparative Perspectives. (Proceedings of the British Academy/OUP, 2013).

His current research projects are on religious adjudication and human rights, the recognition of freedom of conscience and intelligence oversight in a changing national security environment.

Professor Leigh has presented his research at academic conferences and to meetings of policy-makers, parliamentarians, and judges in more than 30 countries. In his policy work he has acted as an expert for the European Union (European Parliament, European Commission support for police reform in Myanmar/Burma and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency), the Council of Europe (Venice Commission), the United Nations Development Programme, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.


His policy reports include:

 H .Born, I. Leigh and A. Wills, Making International Intelligence Cooperation Accountable (Norwegian Parliament Printing House, Oslo, 2015), 196pp

 Making Intelligence Accountable (Norwegian Parliament Publishing House, 2005), which has been translated into 14 languages


and the Handbook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel, (OSCE, Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Warsaw, 2008), also in 7 languages, (both with Hans Born).

He acts as an international adviser to the ‘Impact of Religion – Challenges for Society, Law and Democracy’ Programme at the University of Uppsala, 2008-2018.



Postgraduate Supervision

Religious freedom under international, domestic and comparative law.

Law and religion.

Freedom of conscience.

Accountability and oversight of intelligence and security bodies.

Human rights of armed forces under international, domestic and comparative law.

Teaching Areas

Teaching Areas

Law and Religion

The Individual and the State

Advanced Public Law


Books: edited

Born H, Leigh I and Wills A International Intelligence Cooperation and Accountability (Routledge, 2011).

Masterman R and Leigh I Rights Protection under the UK’s Statutory Bill of Rights: Constitutional and Comparative Perspectives, (Proceedings of the British Academy Series No. 183,Oxford University Press 2013), 342 pp. + xi. ISBN 978-0-19-726537-6; ISSN 0068-1202.


Journal papers: academic

Leigh I 2014 ‘Local Government and Political Constitutionalism’ Public Law 43-55.


Leigh I and Hambler A 2014 ‘ Religious Symbols, Conscience, and the Rights of Others’ Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 3(1): 2-24.


Leigh I and Ahdar R 2012 ’ Post-Secularism and the European Court of Human Rights (or how God never really went away)’ Modern Law Review 75(6) 1065-1099.

Leigh I 2012 ‘Rebalancing Rights and National Security: Reforming UK Intelligence Oversight a Decade After 9/11’ Intelligence and National Security 27 (5): 721-737.

Leigh I 2012. ‘Balancing Religious Autonomy and Other Human Rights Under the European Convention’ Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 1:109-126.


Reports: Official

‘Parliamentary and Specialised Oversight of Security and Intelligence Activities in the United Kingdom’,contribution to the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) -European University Institute (EUI) study on Parliamentary oversight of civilian security and intelligence agencies in relevant EU member states and other major democracies for the European Parliament Directorate-General Internal Policies of the Union – Directorate C – Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs (2011), pp. 290-301.

Research interests

  • Religious Liberty
  • National Security Law
  • Human Rights adjudication
  • Local government law and politics


Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article


Supervision students