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Dr Lawrence McNamara
B Ec (hons) (Monash), LLB (hons), PhD (Sydney)
Prior to coming to YLS I was an academic in Australian law schools for ten years before moving the to the UK in 2007 to take up a post at the University of Reading where I was a Reader in Law and Director of Postgraduate Research. I have held various adjunct and visiting positions in Australia and the USA. In 2013, I left the university sector to join an NGO, the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), where I was Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director of BIICL’s Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law.
In 2017 I joined York Law School. I teach public law, counter-terrorism and media law. I was Deputy Director of Research and the School’s impact lead until 2022.
I am currently on full-time secondment to the Law Commission of England & Wales, where I am a Lawyer on the Criminal Law team.
My research builds outwards on a concern with the regulation of speech, especially with regard to the media. My work has included publications on racial and religious hate speech, and my monograph, Reputation and Defamation (OUP, 2007) was shortlisted for the Birks Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship. In the last ten years I have worked around issues relating to counter-terrorism law and policy. From 2009-2013 I held a Research Councils UK Global Uncertainties Fellowship in Ideas and Beliefs for the “Law, Terrorism and the Right to Know” programme. I worked extensively on issues related to the UK Justice and Security Act 2013.
I have focused particularly on how information is accessed, managed and disclosed, looking at how transparency and accountability might be enhanced, studying the roles of parliament, the judiciary, the executive and the media. Across this work I engage regularly with policy and legislative processes, having given written and oral evidence to parliamentary committees and other bodies in the UK and abroad.
Recent projects include “Opening up closed judgments: balancing secrecy, security and accountability” (funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust). It is increasingly common for closed material procedures (CMPs) to be used in civil cases where national security issues arise. Judgments in these cases will be closed and not available to the public, some of the parties, or some of the lawyers. Over time, though, there may not be grounds for closure because the danger to national security will pass. However, the law does not presently provide for review of judgments to see if they might later be opened. This project aimed to remedy that shortcoming by working with stakeholders to devise a practical evidence-based system that will enable closed judgments to be reviewed and if there is no longer a danger to national security for those judgments to be opened.