Human Rights and Criminal Law Expert from Oxford

16 April 2012


Professor Andrew Ashworth, the 2012 New Zealand Law Foundation Distinguished Visiting Fellow, spent time at the Auckland Law School in March. Professor Ashworth is Vinerian Professor of English Law at Oxford and a Fellow of All Soul’s College. He has an international reputation for his work in criminal law, sentencing, criminal justice and human rights. He served as chair of the Sentencing Advisory Panel from 2007 until its abolition in 2010 and has also been a member of the Criminal Law Revision Committee and Chairman of the Select Committee of Experts on Sentencing at the Council of Europe. His books include Principles of Criminal Law; The Criminal Process (with Mike Redmayne); Sentencing and Criminal Justice; and Human Rights and Criminal Justice (forthcoming with Ben Emmerson and Alison Macdonald).

Professor Ashworth gave a staff seminar on 27 March on ‘English Sentencing Guidelines- Success or Failure?’, discussing the functions of the Sentencing Council in England and Wales, the form that sentencing guidelines take, and the criteria that should be used to assess their success or failure. He examined the extent to which the guidelines have enhanced the rule of law in sentencing, tackled the democratic deficit in sentencing practice and improved practical effectiveness.

Professor Ashworth’s public lecture on 29 March was entitled ‘Judges and Politicians: Recent Controversies in the UK and Europe’. In his lecture he talked about the various conflicts between the UK (both government and judiciary) and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. He examined the criminal justice topics which have generated the greatest disagreement and discussed why Lord Hoffman had strongly criticised the Strasbourg court. Professor Ashworth’s lecture marked the launch of the New Zealand Centre for Human Rights Law, Policy and Practice at the Auckland Law School and was attended by a large number of judges including the Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias and Supreme Court Justice Robert Chambers.