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Dr Michael Naughton


Dr Michael Naughton is a Reader in Sociology and Law across the Law School and the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS). He has been at the University of Bristol as a student and member of staff for almost 25 years. He obtained his BSc (Hons) in Sociology (First Class) in 1996 and PhD in Sociology in 2003. In 2003-04, he was an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology. He was appointed to a Lectureship across the Law School and the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS) in 2004, progressed to Senior Lecturer in 2007 and was promoted to Reader in Sociology and Law in 2012.

Michael has broad teaching and research interests in critical criminology, zemiology, criminology, criminal justice, criminal law, criminal appeals, evidence law and penology. More specifically, he has researched and written extensively on the concept “miscarriages of justice” and the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of the innocent, comprising of almost 60 publications in peer-reviewed academic journals, edited book collections, professional journals, broadsheet newspapers and official reports, many of which are freely available on his personal website:

In addition, Michael is the author or editor of four books: The Innocent and the Criminal Justice System (2013); Claims of Innocence: An introduction to wrongful convictions and how they might be challenged; (2011); The Criminal Cases Review Commission: Hope for the Innocent? (Editor, 2009); and, Rethinking Miscarriages of Justice: Beyond the tip of the iceberg (2007).

In terms of the impact of his research, it has influenced several legal and policy reforms through public engagement activities and invitations to consult with Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Committees and criminal justice system policy makers at home and abroad and to give presentations to a host of other specialist conferences and events. This includes giving oral evidence on my research to the UK Parliamentary Justice Committee, two invited presentations in the UK House of Commons, an invited presentation to the US. Department of Justice in Washington D.C., as well as several other invited consultations and conference papers in the United States, China, Armenia, Italy, Norway and several in Ireland. In addition, he has given more than 40 invited presentations on issues relating to my academic research to public, professional and third sector conferences.

Michael is a regular contributor in the media (over a hundred times) on a range of criminal justice issues. He has also been interviewed for newspapers and appeared on television and radio programmes in Norway, Armenia, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. Research is assessed every 6 or 7 years. The REF 2014 was the first exercise to assess the impact of research outside of academia. Almost 7,000 Impact Case Studies were submitted to REF 2014 by universities in the UK. Dr Naughton's work was submitted by the University of Bristol as an Impact Case Study, ‘Innocence: assisting victims of wrongful imprisonment’, and was one of three which collectively were ranked as 2nd in the UK by the Sociology Panel.