Researcher. Commentator. QC (Hon).

Clare McGlynn is a Professor of Law at Durham University in the UK with over twenty years of experience influencing and shaping law reform. She has particular expertise in the legal regulation of pornography, sexual violence and image-based sexual abuse (including ‘revenge pornography’, ‘upskirting’ and ‘fakeporn’). In 2020, she was appointed an Honorary QC in recognition of her work championing women’s equality in the legal profession and shaping new criminal laws on extreme pornography and image-based sexual abuse.

She has played a central role in the adoption of new laws across the UK criminalizing the non-consensual distribution of intimate images , ‘upskirting’ and the possession of extreme pornography, regularly giving evidence before Parliament and engaging in media and public debates. She has spoken in Parliament about public sexual harassment and #MeToo. Her research has been shared with academic and policy audiences across Europe, Australia, Asia and North America.

On this website, you can find information on Clare’s research and policy work, including access to her academic articles, as well as links to her blogs, policy and briefing documents and other media work. A summary of her current work and activities are below and on her Durham University webpage.

Image-Based Sexual Abuse

CmwPW0iWAAAU-YaClare’s work has helped to shape public debates and law reform. Her most recent research – the report Shattering Lives and Myths – written with colleagues from across the UK, Australia and New Zealand identifies some of the continuing failings of laws and policies in challenging these behaviours.

Her research in this area (with Erika Rackley) developed the concept of image-based sexual abuse to better describe and conceptualise the creation and distribution of intimate images without consent, including ‘revenge pornography’ and upskirting. She put forward her research and recommendations in oral evidence before the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee on reform proposals, as well as recommending comprehensive law reforms before Parliament’s Women & Equalities Select Committee. She actively participates in policy and political debates, with her comments and recommendations on ‘upskirting’ law reform discussed widely including here on the BBC, the harms of photoshopped images and ‘deepfakes’ raised in the Guardian and the problems with current laws focussing only on ‘revenge porn’ here in the Daily Mail and ITV news.

She regularly blogs on these issues, arguing for comprehensive laws, that ‘revenge porn’ is a form of sexual assault and that sexual offending is not about sexual arousal.

She has also addressed policy-makers on these issues across Australia, Europe and North America, and is currently part of an Australian Research Council funded project investigating the harms and impacts of image-based sexual abuse across New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

Sexual and Domestic Violence: what is justice?

select cmte 1Clare is also an expert in the development of rape law and policy, investigating the use of restorative justice in cases of sexual violence and domestic abuse. She has worked with survivors to understand their perspectives on justice, developing the concept of kaleidoscopic justice. Her work has also focused on feminist activism and strategy, particularly the granting of anonymity to rape defendants and the definition of torture in human rights law. Her British Academy funded conference Rethinking Rape Law resulted in the publication of Rethinking Rape Law: international and comparative perspectives.

Reforming the Law on Sexual History Evidence

Clare has engaged in recent high-profile and controversial debates to reform the laws on sexual history evidence following the acquittal on a charge of rape of the footballer Ched Evans. Her policy briefing summarises my main recommendations for change and her blog in the Huffington Post responds to the Government’s refusal to change the law and argues that reform is still needed.

Criminalising Extreme Pornography

Why Criminalise the Possession of Rape Pornography?
Why Criminalise the Possession of Rape Pornography?

Clare’s research on extreme pornography justifies the regulation of some forms of pornography on the basis of its cultural harm (with Erika Rackley). This work influenced recent law reform campaigns, including (‘ban Rape Porn’), which led to new criminal laws in England & Wales and Scotland. The impact of Clare’s research in this field was recognised as world-leading in the recent Government review of research impact (view the case study here). Her work has been widely debated including in The Guardian, the Observer, the Independent and on the BBC. Clare has discussed this research on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour and Law in Action (see also research briefing). Her research advances liberal justifications for pornography regulation, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.