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Dr Michael Naughton

Dr Michael Naughton

Dr Michael Naughton
BSc, PhD(Bristol)

Reader in Sociology and Law

Office 3.26
Wills Memorial Building,
Queen's Road, Clifton BS8 1RJ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 954 5323


My research is highly interdisciplinary straddling sociology, criminal law, evidence and procedure, critical criminology, penology and zemiology. It centres on the injustices and wider social harms of the structures and workings of the criminal justice system and how they might be challenged and/or remedied. More specifically, my research has contributed new definitions of miscarriages of justice according to whether they were caused intentionally or unintentionaly and offered a new typology to aid analysis and understanding: "abortions of justice", "miscarriages of justice" and/or "systemic abortions of justice". It has devised new ways of quantifiying and describing the nature of miscarriages of justice in terms of the appeal court and/or stage of the appeal process in which the conviction was overturned and as evidenced by official statistics of successful appeals against criminal conviction, again devising a new typology: "mundane", "routine" and/or "exceptional". It has distinguished the myriad causes (individual and structural) of miscariages of justice and/or abortions of justice at the pre-trail stage (police and prosecution). It has analysed the extensive harmful consequences of wrongful convictions (social, psychological, physical and financial) to individual and secondary victims and to society as a whole. It has shown the accute limitations and failings of the entire post-conviction system (appeal courts, prison and parole systems, Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) and statutory compensation scheme) to address and/or remedy claims of factual innocence by alleged victims of wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

I am currently researching allegations of child sexual abuse.


I am the author of two monographs, a sole edited book and a practical guide to understanding and challenging alleged wrongful convictions (with Gabe Tan):

In addition, I have over 50 publications in peer-reviewed academic journals, edited book collections, articles in professional journals, magazines, broadsheet newspapers and official reports.

Many of my publications are freely avaiable on my personal website at:

To circulate my research, I have given over 20 refereed conference papers on my research at the conferences of all of the major academic associations in my fields of interest at home and abroad, including British Society of Criminology, European Society of Criminology, Socio-Legal Studies Association, Society of Legal Scholars, European Group for the Study of Deviancy and Social Control. I have also given invited presentations on my research findings at numerous other universities around the country for teaching programmes and staff seminar series.

Knowledge Transfer and Public Engagement

I have been invited to consult with Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Committees and criminal justice system policy makers domestically and internationally 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, I have given more than 40 invited presentations on issues relating to my work to professional, public and third sector conferences, including LawWorks (Solicitors Pro Bono Group), PILnet (Public Interest Lawyers Network), Association of Prison Lawyers, Parole Board of England and Wales, Independent Monitoring Board for Prisons, Law Society for England and Wales, South West, Law Society of Wales, Law Society of Ireland, Criminal Appeal Lawyers Association (CALA), Progressing Prisoners Maintaining Innocence (PPMI),  Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (MOJO), United Against Injustice (UAI), Falsely Accused Teachers and Carers (FACT).

Impact of Research

My research always seeks to be impactful and to make a postive difference in response to the social problems that I engage with and critically analyse. I was submitted to the Sociology panel for RAE 2014 by SPAIS (School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies) as an "Impact Case Study", which was assessed as 4 Star. Further details of the influence of my research and public engagement can be found on my personal website at:

Media work

I am a regular contributor to national newspapers and television and radio programmes on issues relating to my research on the limitations and flaws of the criminal justice and criminal appeal systems and the Criminal Cases Review Commission as they relate to the causation or overturn of wrongful convictions, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, BBC 1, BBC Panorama, BBC Rough Justice, BBC News 24, ITV, GMTV, HTV, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC World Service, as well as international newspapers, radio and television programmes in Norway, Armenia, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, and numerous local television, radio and newspaper interviews.

Awards and Prizes 

Awards and prizes for my research and wider activities include:

  • Michael Young Prize, sponsored by The Young Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC);
  • Attorney General's Pro Bono Committee Award;
  • Bristol Law Society Award; 
  • University of Bristol Engagement Award;
  • Radical Statistics Group Prize.


Reader in Sociology and Law with a split role between the University of Bristol Law School and the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS). BSc (Hons) in Sociology (First Class) (1996) and PhD in Sociology (2003) from the University of Bristol. Doctoral thesis was entitled: 'Miscarriages of Justice: Exception to the Rule?'. 2003-04, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology, University of Bristol. Appointed to a Lectureship at Bristol in 2004, progressed to Senior Lecturer in 2007 and was promoted to a Readership in 2012.


In 2016/17, I am teaching on the following units:

  • A Sociology of Crime and Justice - SOCI30047 (U/G Sociology. Unit Coordinator)
  • Criminology - LAWD30100 (U/G Law, Unit Coordinator)
  • Crime, Justice and Society - LAWD20034 (U/G Law)

I welcome proposals for PhD supervision in the general area of criminology, criminal justice and penology. I am especially interested in proposed research associated with any aspect of miscarriages of justice/wrongful conviction and imprisonment. 

Selected publications

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Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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