Birmingham Salon


Law and Justice

Saturday 7th May, 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm
The Arthur Sullivan Room, Birmingham Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham B3 3BU

Tickets £15 (includes tea/coffee) from EventBrite

Law-making and Freedom with Claire Fox (Baroness Fox of Buckley)
1.15 pm - 2.45 pm

Longstanding campaigner for freedom of speech, Claire Fox sits as a non-affiliated peer in the House of Lords, an institution she believes should be abolished as it constrains British democracy. Her short weekly YouTube videos, Inside the Lords, give her insights into the process of legislating as it takes place between the House of Commons and House of Lords, why certain pieces of legislation promised in a manifesto may not materialise at all and why others appear and disappear. 

Key recent pieces of legislation such as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and the Online Safety Bill present a major increase in restrictions on our freedom. What hope should we have, if any, of something less draconian emerging from the legislative process and what are the implications of this legislation for the wider justice system? To what degree are such laws related to what the majority of the electorate want and where should the work of law making take place?

Claire Fox is a writer, broadcaster and director of the Academy of Ideas. She was Brexit Party MEP for the North-West of England until the UK left the EU in January 2020. Claire was introduced into the House of Lords in October 2020.

Rosie Cuckston, Birmingham Salon organiser

Suggested reading for this discussion:

The House of Lords defending democracy - oh please, Fraser MyersSpiked Online, March 2022
Is Nadine Dorries a free speech champion or censorship fanatic? Freddie Hayward, New Statesman, February 2022
From lockdown to net zero accountability is dead in British politics, Steve Baker MPThe Telegraph, January 2022 

Refreshment break: 2.45 pm - 3.15 pm

What Are Prisons For?
3.15 pm - 4.45 pm

Prisoners are denied many of the normal rights of citizenship, such as being able to vote. But what are prisons for? And do prisons work? Denying liberty serves an important function in punishing those who have broken the law. But is it not also humane to give prisoners the chance to turn their lives around? 

In addition to the usual restrictions, the pandemic meant that visits from family and friends was stopped as were educational and rehabilitation courses and opportunities to work.  What impact has this had?Does the current prison system downplay people’s inherent capacity for change? Should there be more emphasis on people having the power to redeem themselves? If so, what changes need to be made to the UK prison system? 


Dr Anna Kotova, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Birmingham. Anna holds a PhD in Criminology from the University of Oxford and her teaching and research interests are in prison sociology and the impact of imprisonment on prisoners' families. Anna is also a member of Academic Advisory Group for West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.

Dr Jonathan Hurlow, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist. Jo is Chair of the Psychiatry Division of the Birmingham Medical Institute and vice president of the Birmingham Medicolegal Society. He sits on the Committee for Professional Practice and Ethics at the Royal College of Psychiatry.

Michael Campbell, De Profundis Ltd, expert advisor to prisons. Michael supports governors, officers and prisoners to implement change that strengthens safety for everyone in prison. Michael served 3½ years in prisons across the country and develops practical solutions grounded in his experience to tackle prisoners’ anxiety, stress and frustration.

Ruth Mieschbuehler, Senior Lecturer in Education 
Studies, University of Derby. Organiser, East Midlands Salon.

Suggested reading for this discussion:

Locked up under lockdown: the plight of prisoners, Michael Campbell, People's Lockdown Enquiry
March 2022
The Rise of the Woke Prison, Joanna Williams, Spiked Online, June 2021
Our Prisons Are a National Disgrace, Ian Birrell, Unherd, December 2019