SOLON Publications

Members of the SOLON network have written monographs, edited volumes and contributed chapters to a number of texts

Press Freedom and Responsibility – Regulation and the Royal Charter
Judith Rowbotham, Kim Stevenson and Samantha Pegg, Crime News in Modern Britain. Press Reporting and Responsibility 1820-2010, with a Preface by Joshua Rozenberg (Palgrave Macmillan, published 16 October 2013).

When it comes to newspaper reporting, exactly what constitutes the public interest? How justified is it, in the public interest, that ultimately, press freedom be managed (as all three political parties have recently agreed) by politicians? Equally, what do we mean by freedom of the press and to what extent can, and should, such press freedom be validated by the public interest? How can we reconcile the desire to inform, sometimes at all costs, with genuine public responsibility? On the one hand, many of us have felt increasingly outraged by press intrusions into the privacy not of celebrities (there is a long tradition of feeling that being ‘celebrated’ means giving up privacy to a considerable extent because we are ‘interested’ in such figures) but of private individuals whose media importance relates to some other story – usually linked in some way to a ‘crime’ story. On the other, there is a very long tradition of believing that (as The Times put it), one of the most important roles of a free press relies on its having the capacity to hold the political system as well as individual politicians to account. How can the press do this if that political system has the power to censor the press and control what it publishes?

This is the background to current debates about the proposed Royal Charter on Press Regulation – and also, to the history of how the charter has come about. It has been pretty common knowledge for the last decade that journalists had taken advantage of modern technology by ‘hacking’ not just into individual emails and websites but also mobile phone voicemail boxes. But (apart from the Guardian) society was not really worried about it until the trial of Levi Bellfield. The media itself presented the idea that Bellfield might have got off thanks to the fall-out from the phone-hacking activity of an ‘enterprising’ investigative journalist. The resultant public outrage was huge, especially as more stories emerged suggesting that this was not an isolated case and that other, ‘ordinary’ men and women, involuntarily and unfortunately involved in crime stories, had found themselves subjected to unwarranted intrusion. The consequence was the Leveson Inquiry (which, arguably, lost sight of its original brief to investigate the impact of poor practices in investigative journalism on the criminal justice process, and links to bodies such as the police).

Did Leveson’s Report (at least implicitly) recommend the current version of the Royal Charter? He declared that ‘What is required is independent self-regulation’. Reining in the excesses of the press while maintaining its freedom was always going to require compromise, and, to date, there has been no real meeting of minds. The advertised stance of the legislature is that they have achieved a compromise which takes note of the key concerns of the newspaper industry. But while there is broad consensus that a new regulatory body needs to be established (not a merely cosmetic overhaul as when the Press Council became the Press Complaints Commission in 1990), the devil is in the detail. Despite the claims of compromise, the Charter contains a key provision which is identified by the newspaper industry as amounting to a return to state licensing of newspapers: something fought against from the start (consider John Milton’s Areopagitica, 1644).

As a result of writing Crime News in Modern Britain: Press Reporting and Responsibility 1820-2010, we find ourselves on the side of the press in this aspect of the fight. Political interference is a hindrance to press freedom – and allowing a change to the mandate of the Royal Charter by a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament does bring with it the potential for political interference. We agree there is no current intention: only the historically-uninformed would try to pretend that it could not happen in the future. As we have argued, more than the broadcast media, it has been print journalism, using the authority and permanence of the written word, which has campaigned most vigorously for changes to ‘bad’ laws or for new laws to fill ‘gaps’ in existing legislation. Such pressure has played a major part in making governments feel compelled to preside over the enactment of apparently electorate-friendly legislation which has been rushed through the parliamentary process.

There needs to be a greater restraint shown by the press in regulating the potential excesses of investigative journalism, but history shows that it is possible to achieve this without political licensing. By concentrating on deterrence and damages, both the press and the government have ducked a central issue – how standards of journalism could and should be enhanced, including in areas largely glossed over by Leveson such as its relations with one key element in the criminal justice system: the police force.

This is perhaps most relevant in the arena of crime news, that staple attraction of newspapers. The history of crime reportage can provide some useful insights which could provide better strategies for improving investigative journalism. Guy Bartholomew’s Daily Mirror of the 1930s prided itself on exciting headlines and the nineteenth century News of the World was as dramatic as its modern incarnation. When journalists and editors overstepped the mark contempt of court proceedings have historically controlled such excess. Should we not be exploring that, rather than political licensing?

book1Shame, Blame, and Culpability - Crime and Violence in the Modern State
Judith Rowbotham, Marianna Muravyeva, David Nash

Published 23rd July 2012 by Routledge This ground-breaking collection of research-based chapters addresses the themes of shame, blame and culpability in their historical perspective in the broad area of crime, violence and the modern state, drawing on less familiar territories such as Russia and Greece, not just on material from familiar locations in western Europe. Ranging from the early modern to the late twentieth century, the collection has implications for how we understand punishments imposed by states or the community today.

Foreword Xavier Rousseau Introduction Judith Rowbotham, Marianna Muravyeva and David Nash Part I: Theorizing Shame 1. 'Verguenza, Vergogne, Schande, Skam and Sram': Litigating for Shame and Dishonour in Early Modern Europe Marianna Muravyeva 2. ‘Fama,’ Shame Punishment, and History of Justice in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries Antonella Bettoni 3. Towards an Agenda for the Wider Study of Shame: Theorizing for Nineteenth Century British Evidence David Nash Part II: Rethinking Blame 4. The Shifting Nature of Blame: Revisiting Issues of Blame, Shame and Culpability in the English Criminal Justice System Judith Rowbotham 5. Guilty Before the Fact? The Deviant Body and the Chimera of ‘Precrime,’ 1877-1939 Neil Davie 6. The ‘Convict Stain’: Desistence in the Penal Colony Barry Godfrey Part III: Issues of Authority: Culpability and the Civilizing Imperative 7. Penance, Compensation, Terror: The Theory and Practice of Captial Punishment in Early Modern France, Paul Friedland 8. Hurt, Harm and Humiliation: Community Responses to Deviant Behaviour in Early Modern Scotland, Anne-Marie Kilday 9. Violence against Honor: Shame and the Crime of Rape in the Age of the Greek Revolution, 1821-1828 Katerini Mousadakou 10. 'Treat them According to the European Tradition': The Discourse of Blaming the Poor, the Problem of Professional Beggars and Attitudes to Poverty in Modern Russia, Julia Barlova 11. Shaming Punishments of Women in Russia in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries Natalia Pushkareva 12. Insulting the Russian Royal Family: Crime, Blame and its Sources Boris Kolonitskij 13. Crime and Culpability in the Community, the Newspapers and the Courts: The Case of the Feuding Society of Crete (Greece) Aris Tsantiropoulos General Bibliography

histories of crimeGender, Sexualities and Law
Jackie Jones, Anna Grear, Rachel Anne Fenton and Kim Stevenson, eds. 2011, Routledge

Bringing together an international range of academics, Gender, Sexualities and Law provides a comprehensive interrogation of the range of issues – both topical and controversial – raised by the gendered character of law and legal discourse.

Part One: Theory, Law and Sex 1. Women and the Cast of Legal Persons, Ngaire Naffine 2. De/Sexing the Woman Lawyer, Rosemary Hunter 3. ‘Sexing the Matrix’: Embodiment, Disembodiment and the Law: Towards the Re-Gendering of Legal Personality?, Anna Grear 4. Vulnerability, Equality and the Human Condition, Martha A. Fineman Part Two: Representations, Law and Sex 5. The ‘Gendered Company’ Revisited, Alice Belcher 6. The Public Sex of the Judiciary: The Appearance of the Irrelevant and the Invisible, Leslie J. Moran 7. Sexuality, Gender and Social Cognition: Lesbian and Gay Identity in Judicial Decision-Making, Todd Brower 8. The Gendered Dock: Reflections on the Impact of Gender Stereotyping in the Criminal Justice System, Judith Rowbotham Part Three: Violence, Law and Sex 9. ‘She Never Screamed out and Complained’: Recognising Gender in Legal and Media Representations of Rape, Kim Stevenson 10. Gendering Rape: Social Attitudes towards Male and Female Rape, Phil N.S. Rumney and Natalia Hanley 11. When Hate is not Enough: Tackling Homophobic Violence, Iain McDonald 12. The Legal Construction of Domestic Violence: ‘Unmasking’ a Private Problem, Mandy Burton Part Four: International Violence, Law and Sex 13. Criminalization or Protection? Tensions in the Construction of Prevention Strategies concerning Trafficking for the Purposes of Sexual Exploitation, Anna Carline 14. A Woman’s Honour and a Nation’s Shame: ‘Honour Killings’ in Pakistan, Shilan Shah-Davis 15. Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence, Anne-Marie de Brouwer Part Five: Reproduction, Law and Sex 16. The Strange Case of the Invisible Woman in Abortion Law Reform, Kate Gleeson 17. Third-Wave Feminism, Motherhood and the Future of Feminist Legal Theory, Bridget J. Crawford 18. ‘Shall I be Mother?’ Reproductive Autonomy, Feminism and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, Rachel Anne Fenton, D. Jane V. Rees and Sue Heenan 19. Motherhood and Autonomy in a Shared Parenting Climate, Susan B. Boyd Part Six: Relationships, Law and Sex 20. A very British Compromise? Civil Partnerships, Liberalism by Stealth and the Fallacies of Neo-Liberalism, Jeffrey Weeks 21. Attitudes to Same-Sex Marriage in South African Muslim Communities: an Exploratory Study, Elsje Bonthuys and Natasha Erlank 22. Taking ‘Sex’ out of Marriage in the EU, Jackie Jones 23. From Russia (and Elsewhere) with Love: Mail Order Brides, Jennifer Marchbank


histories of crimeHistories of Crime Britain 1600-2000
Anne-Marie Kilday and David Nash(PalgraveMacmillan 2010)


This book provides a rounded and coherent history of crime and the law spanning the past 400 years. It explores the evolution of attitudes towards crime and criminality over time. Through evocative case studies it highlights themes, current issues and key debates in the history of deviance and bad behaviour including marital cruelty and adultery, infanticide, murder, the underworld, blasphemy and moral crimes, fraud and white-collar crime, the death penalty and punishment.

Introduction Kilday and Nash
Moral Crimes and the Law in Britain since 1700 David Nash
Cruelty and Adultery: Offences against the Institution Joanne Bailey
Desperate Measures or Cruel Intentions? Infanticide in Britain since 1600 Anne-Marie Kilday
'Most Intimate Violations' Contextualising the Crime of Rape Kim Stevenson
Murder and Fatality: The Changing Face of Homicide Shani D'Cruze
Criminality, Deviance and the Underworld since 1700 Heather Shore
Fraud and White-collar Crime: 1850 to the present Sarah Wilson
Policing the Populace: The Road to Professionlaisation Chris Williams
Execution as Punishment in England 1750-2000 Judith Rowbotham


child killingsMurder: Social and historical approaches to understanding murder and murderers
Shani D’Cruze, Sandra Walklate, and Samantha PeggSummary

This book examines the issues associated with the crime of murder, drawing on detailed case studies as a way of exemplifying and exploring more general questions of socio-cultural responses to murder. It incorporates a historical perspective providing some fascinating examples from the past enabling readers to understand what has changed and what has remained the same within that socio-cultural framework. Recent high profiles cases including Hindley, Shipman, and Bulger are examined in this context.

Cataloguing murder
Devils and demons: the social construction
of murder and murderers
Murderous women
Murderous children
Murderous men: intimate and domestic killings
Murderous men: killing acquaintances and strangers
Conclusion: rendering them pathological


crim consCriminal Conversations: Victorian Crimes, Social Panic, and Moral Outrage
Judith Rowbotham and Kim Stevenson (Ohio State University Press 2005)

This second edited volume focuses on the ‘conversations’ that occurred primarily in the Victorian media around specific types of crime and bad behaviour and explains how the printed press presented and represented certain types of conduct and those responsible for such behaviour. Victorian newspapers offered a daily diet of cases from the summary courts educating the public about what was acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Authors seek to set out such print conversations in their wider cultural context and in particular explore their relationships in the light of associated social and moral panics.

Introduction. Rowbotham and Stevenson
Beyond the bounds of respectable society : the "dangerous classes" in Victorian and Edwardian England. David Taylor
The press and the public visibility of nineteenth-century criminal children. Jane Abbott
Religion, rural society, and moral panic in mid-Victorian England. Gary Moses
A Victorian financial crisis: the scandalous implications of the case of Overend Gurney. Paul Barnes
Larceny : debating the "boundless region of dishonesty". Graham Ferris
Criminal savages? : or "civilizing" the legal process. Judith Rowbotham
Behaving badly? : Irish migrants and crime in the Victorian city. Roger Swift
Striking at Sodom and Gomorrah : the medicalization of male homosexuality and its relation to the law. Ivan Crozier
A mania for suspicion : poisoning, science, and the law. Tony Ward
A little of what you fancy does you ... harm!! (with apologies to Marie Lloyd). Sandra Morton
The eloquent corpse : gender, probity, and bodily integrity in Victorian domestic murder. Shani D’Cruze
She-butchers : baby-droppers, baby-sweaters, and baby-farmers. David Bentley
Sex, wives, and prostitutes : debating Clarence. Kate Gleeson
"Crimes of moral outrage" : Victorian encryptions of sexual violence. Kim Stevenson
"Kicked, beaten, jumped on until they are crushed," all under man's wing and protection : the Victorian dilemma with domestic violence. Susan Edwards


Behaving badlyBehaving Badly: Visible Crime, Social Panics and Legal Responses - Victorian and Modern Parallels
Judith Rowbotham and Kim Stevenson (Ashgate 2003)

This was the first publication arising from the SOLON research project based on utilising original newspaper material from the nineteenth century some of which is available on the SOLON database sourced and sponsored through an ESRC Small Grant Scheme Behaving Badly: Media Representations of ‘Crime’ and the Law – Victorian and Modern Parallels.

Both the Victorian age and the late twentieth century are often characterised by contemporaries as times of apparent economic affluence and stability. They are often depicted as periods that shared a conviction that the stability of society, including its affluence, was threatened by the activities of social deviants. These essays aim to examine crime of a socially visible nature, in the context of social panic and moral outrage in both the Victorian period and the late twentieth century. Through a series of interconnected case studies, exploring the social and legal responses to such offences and their public presentation through popular reporting and the court system, a series of apparent continuities as well as discontinuities are highlighted in the making of legislation.

Introduction: Behaving Badly. Rowbotham and Stevenson
Acquitting the innocent. Convicting the guilty. Delivering justice?, David Bentley
Causing a sensation: media and legal representations of bad behaviour, Rowbotham and Stevenson
Policing a myth, managing an illusion: Victorian and contemporary crime recording. Tom Williamson
Policing bad behaviour – interrogating the dilemmas. Roger Hopkins Burke
Law and disorder: Victorian restraint and modern panic. Kiron Reid
Moral cancers: fraud and respectable crime. Sarah Wilson
The blast of blasphemy. Government, law and culture confront a chill wind. David Nash
 A dangerous obsession? Gambling and social stability. Mike Ahearne
Legislating morality: Victorian and modern legal responses to pornography. Tom Lewis
Penny dreadfuls and perverse domains: Victorian and modern moral panics. Gavin Sutter
Discourses of denial and moral panics: the pornographisation of the child in art, the written word, film and photograph. Susan Edwards
Why can't a woman be more like a man? Attitudes to husband-murder 1889–1989. Judith Knelman
Gendered assumptions – madness, pregnancy and childbirth. M.E. Rodgers
From unlawful assembly to aggravated trespass: the control of protest in the 1880s and 1990s. Richard Stone
Link to Review by Lesley Hall

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