Skip navigation

Northumbria Public Lecture Series: Professor Lorna Dawson CBE

Northumbria University


Eldon Lecture: Professor Lorna Dawson CBE, Head of Forensic Soil Science, The James Hutton Institute

Evidence from the Earth; scientific expert witnesses and their ethical duties

Lecture Theatre 002, Business and Law Building, City Campus East, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne

Refreshments will be available from 6pm


In her Eldon Lecture Professor Dawson will draw upon her experience of her investigations in three notorious murder cases, HMA v Sinclair (the “World’s End” murders), R v HALLIWELL (the Swindon taxi murder) and R v McKie (in which a police inspector murdered his police officer wife) to demonstrate the use of geoscience in associating exhibits (productions) with crime scenes. This led to convictions even when as in HMA v Sinclair the perpetrator had previously been acquitted and as in R v HALLIWELL other non scientific evidence which would normally have been available could not for legal reasons be put before the jury.  

Professor Dawson has a particular interest in the ethical duties of scientific expert witnesses and in developing and maintaining a culture which can encourage and support the highest standards of accuracy and objectivity. She will discuss the need to ensure that scientific evidence is put before juries in ways which make difficult points accessible to them, at the same time leaving appropriate issues open for the judge’s charge and jurors’ consideration.

About the Speaker

Professor Lorna Dawson CBE is Head of Forensic Soil Science at the James Hutton Institute, visiting Professor at Robert Gordon University, Chartered Scientist, Fellow of the Institute of British Soil Scientists and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She has worked on over 150 cases with police forces, agencies and lawyers across the UK and overseas, in soil trace evidence, contamination and search (Northumbria University also works in partnership with the Police - read more below). She is a member of the National Crime Agency, holds diplomas in civil and criminal law (2011, 2012, updated 2015) and regularly attends court as an expert witness. She sits on the British Association of Science General Committee and holds a diploma in Science Communication (2010). She is the Science Advisor for SEFARI (Scottish Environment Food Agriculture Research Institutes) and knowledge exchange Lead for the Environment. She is an advisor on several research projects (e.g. SoilTracker, Denmark and the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, UK) and is on the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) scientific advisory committee.

To register your attendance, please complete the form below. For queries email

 The James Hutton Institute



Northumbria University Police Research & Education Network

Assessed as world-leading and internationally-excellent, research to develop the evidence base for contemporary policing is conducted across Northumbria University. Our academic staff inform policy and practice and provide wide-ranging, cutting-edge science and applied research working in partnership with the Police and agencies regionally, nationally, within European networks and internationally. Find out more about our work in this area, key research themes, consultancy and Police Seminar Series here.

Event Details

Northumbria University
City Campus East
Business and Law Building, Room 002
Newcastle upon Tyne


a sign in front of a crowd

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.

a person sitting at a table

Order your prospectus

If you would like to know more about our courses, or life in general as a student at Northumbria, then we can help you.

Back to top