The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights is delighted to welcome two British Academy Postdoctoral Fellows -  Dr. Leah Trueblood and Dr. Richard Martin – who will complete their projects over the next three years.

Leah Trueblood

Leah’s research is at the intersection of legal theory, political theory, and public law. Her British Academy project focuses on the roles political parties play in the process of democratic law-making, and forms part of an ongoing project hosted at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights. It identifies the range of roles political parties play and asks if these roles must all be performed by one group, or are instead performed by different overlapping groups that should be distinguished from each other. This research puts forward a new theoretical framework for thinking about political parties that has implications for the treatment of political parties in both politics and law. The paradox at the heart of this project is this: ordinary members of a political party cannot be members of the opposition or the government. If this is the case, how can it make sense to treat political parties as single, unified entities? She will hold the British Academy Fellowship at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights in conjunction with a Career Development Fellowship in Public Law from Worcester College.

Leah completed her D.Phil. at University College, Oxford in 2018 focusing on constitutional referendums. Her doctoral research was funded by a scholarship from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, which supports doctoral students seeking to make an impact on public policy. In July 2018 her research was cited in support of the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Referendums. She is the co-recipient of a grant from Oxford’s John Fell Fund for her work on the philosophical foundations of voting. Leah is currently a Stipendiary Lecturer in Law at St Hilda’s College where she teaches Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Jurisprudence.

Leah’s D.Phil. argues that referendums are exercises in representative democracy. This is in contrast to the way referendums are usually treated in theory, politics, and law (for example in the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Scotland Act 2016, and the Wales Act 2017) as exercises in direct democracy. She argues that all democracies, and all democratic decision-making processes, require representatives. This is because democratic decision-making requires deliberation, which in turn requires representation.

Leah is very excited to by remaining in the Oxford Law Faculty and to continuing to be affiliated with the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights.

Richard Martin

Richard’s research explores how ethical duties placed on public authorities are not only crafted by legislatures and courts but, crucially, how they are understood and performed by frontline decision-makers within such authorities. Richard’s doctoral research, Policing Human Rights, was based on extensive fieldwork with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. It revealed how human rights are understood, but also re-defined, by officers across the police. The British Academy Fellowship is an endeavour to extend this style of inquiry further. It compares the crafting and performance of the statutory duties to have ‘due regard’ to equality commitments in England (s149(1) Equality Act 2010) and to give ‘proper consideration’ to human rights in Victoria (s38(1) Victoria Charter of Rights and Responsibilities). Doctrinally, the project will analyse how the courts interpret and apply these duties, drawing on the concepts of ‘reflexive regulation’ and a ‘culture of justification’. Empirically, it constructs an account of public law from the ground-up. It will use qualitative methods to elicit equality and rights practices, alongside the vernaculars and assumptions, that animate the routine administration of state power and allocation of resources. The project hopes to encourage greater appraisal of the particular role and capacity of public authorities as actors involved in rights ‘dialogues’ alongside the judiciary and legislature.

After completing his master’s degree and doctorate at Oxford’s Centre for Criminology and serving as Managing Editor of the Oxford Human Rights Hub Blog, Richard has spent the last two years as a Fellow at the Department of Law, London School of Economics. At the LSE, Richard has taught criminal law, public law, criminal justice and sentencing. Beyond the seminar room, he is completing an empirical research project that explores how police officers are grappling with the recent statutory reforms to pre-charge bail (Policing and Crime Act 2017). Criminal justice is a field that Richard has continued to have an interest in, having spent valuable summers as a volunteer with the Committee on the Administration of Justice (Belfast) and as a consultant to the Law Commission of England and Wales. Richard is a Lord Denning Scholar at Lincoln’s Inn. The findings of Richard’s doctoral research can be found in his forthcoming monograph, Policing Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2020). Richard is much looking forward to returning to Oxford’s Law Faculty in September.