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Dr Michael Naughton

Dr Michael Naughton

Dr Michael Naughton
BSc, Ph.D.(Bristol)

Reader in Sociology and Law

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

+44 (0) 117 954 5323



Dr Michael Naughton is a Reader in Sociology and Law across the Law School (click here) and the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS) (click here).

He obtained his PhD in Sociology (2003) and BSc (Hons) in Sociology (First Class) (1996) from the University of Bristol. In 2003-2004, he was an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology, Bristol. He was appointed to a Lectureship at Bristol across the Law School and the Department of Sociology in 2004, progressed to Senior Lecturer in 2007 and promoted to a Readership in 2012.

He is the Founder and Director of Empowering the Innocent, a targeted campaign that calls for the urgent reform of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) or for it to be replaced with a new body that is fit for the purpose of assisting innocent victims to overturn their wrongful convictions (click here for more information).

Between 2004-2015, he was Founder and Director of Innocence Network UK (INUK), which saw him facilitate the establishment, and support the subsequent running, of a national network of a total of 36 innocence projects in UK universities and beyond (click here for more information).

Between 2005-2015, he was Founder and Director of the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP), the first innocence project in the UK established to investigate alleged wrongful convictions, which also became the template for the setting up of the innocence projects under the auspices of Innocence Network UK (INUK) (click here for more information)


Michael’s research is highly interdisciplinary straddling social and philosophical theory, critical criminology, criminal law and procedure, criminal appeals, penology and zemiology. It centres on the injustices and wider social harms relating to the dominant discourses, structures, procedures and operations of the criminal justice system. More specifically, he has researched and written extensively on the causes, scope and harmful consequences of “miscarriages of justice” and the limitations and/or outright failings of the criminal justice system in dealing with claims of factual innocence by alleged victims of wrongful conviction and/or imprisonment.


Michael is the author or editor of four books: The innocent and the criminal justice system (2013, Palgrave Macmillan) (click here); Rethinking miscarriages of justice: Beyond the tip of the iceberg (2012 [2007], Palgrave Macmillan) (click here); The Criminal Cases Review Commission: Hope for the innocent? (Editor, 2012 [2009], Palgrave Macmillan) (click here); and, Claims of innocence: An introduction to wrongful convictions and how they might be challenged (with Tan, G., 2010, University of Bristol/LexisNexis) (click here).

In addition, he has 60 further publications in peer-reviewed academic journals, edited book collections, professional journals, broadsheet newspapers and official reports, many of which are freely available on this website (click here).

To share his research within academia, Michael has given some 20 refereed conference papers relating to his researches to academic conferences relating to his fields of interest, including to the annual conferences of the British Society of Criminology, European Society of Criminology, Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA), Society of Legal Scholars (SLS) and the European Group for the Study of Deviancy and Social Control (click here for details).

Public Engagement 

He has also given more than 50 invited presentations on issues relating to his research to professional, public and third sector conferences in the UK, including for 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 (IMB), 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) and Falsely Accused Teachers and Carers (FACT) (click here for details).


Michael has given over a hundred interviews to national newspapers and television and radio programmes on his work and a range of criminal justice issues, including for 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 and Ireland (click here for details).


Michael has 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 his 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., several other invited consultations and conference papers in the United States, China, Armenia, Italy, Norway and several in Ireland.

These activities have contributed to several major reforms at home and abroad, including reforms to the prison rules on the treatment of prisoners maintaining innocence and to the Attorney General’s guidelines on disclosure and access to evidence post-conviction for alleged victims of wrongful convictions who seek to mount an appeal or make an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. He also influenced a new right of appeal for alleged victims of wrongful convictions in South Australia (click here further details).

In recognition of the impact of his research and public engagement activities, Michael’s work was submitted by the University of Bristol as an Impact Case Study to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) (click here)  in 2014. The REF was introduced as a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions, which it does 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. Michael’s case study, ‘Innocence: assisting victims of wrongful imprisonment’ (click here), was one of three submitted to the Sociology Panel by the University of Bristol which were collectively ranked as 2nd in the UK.

Awards and Prizes

Michael has received a number of awards and prizes including:

  • Attorney General’s Pro Bono Award
  • Bristol Law Society Annual Pro Bono Award
  • University of Bristol Public Engagement Award
  • Michael Young Prize, sponsored by the ESRC and The Young Foundation
  • Radical Statistics Group Critical Essay Prize


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

Supervision: Dr Naughton welcomes applications from prospective PhD students in any of his teaching and research areas.

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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