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Dr Claire Bessant

Associate Professor

Department: Northumbria Law School

Dr Claire Bessant joined Northumbria University’s School of Law in 2002 having made the decision to move to academia from private practice where she worked as a solicitor specialising in family law. She has since published in the fields of family law, privacy law, information sharing and human rights, and has contributed to government and parliamentary consultations, on both domestic violence and online privacy.  Claire's PhD thesis integrated study of both family and information rights law, asking 'Do parents believe that the family should be afforded privacy, and if so, to what extent do parents believe the law affords effective protection to family privacy, particularly family information privacy.'  

Claire is joint Managing Editor of the open-access Journal of Law, Technology and Trust. At Northumbria, she is a member of both the Gender, Sexuality and Law Research Interest Group and the Family Justice Research Interest Group. Claire is also a member of the Association of Internet Researchers, the International Society of Family Law and the Society of Legal Scholars.

Claire’s teaching covers a variety of areas including research skills and information law (particularly access to environmental information and inter-agency information sharing for child protection purposes).  Claire has also taught on the undergraduate and postgraduate Childcare Law and Family Law modules and on the undergraduate distance learning English Legal Systems module.

Claire has undertaken a number of administrative roles whilst at Northumbria, including Programme Director, Faculty Director of Programme Approvals and Review, Director of Education for Postgraduate Law Programmes and most recently Director of Education for Law. 

Claire Bessant

Campus Address

Room 309, City Campus East

Newcastle Upon Tyne

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Claire’s most recent research is focused upon privacy.

Claire is particularly interested in the concept of family privacy and the potential conflict between family privacy and children’s rights. Family privacy is here understood as an ideology which protects the family from the intervention of state and society and enables the family (notably parents) to take decisions about the family and children’s upbringing. Claire's doctoral thesis titled 'Parental Views about the Importance of Family Privacy and its Protection in English Law was examined by Professor Jonathan Herring, Exeter College, Oxford and Professor Dawn Watkins, Leicester, and used empirical methods to explore parents’ understanding of family privacy and the laws protecting such privacy.  The thesis proposes a new framework for understanding the relationship between family, state and society and a new definition of family privacy which reflects both how parents understand the term and jurisprudential views on the family and how it should be protected from state and society.

Claire's recent research also explores the concept of 'sharenting' (a term used when parents share information about their children online). In 2018 she published her analysis of the legal remedies afforded to children in the UK whose information is shared online by their parents . She is currently working with an international, interdisciplinary team of academics to develop further understanding of the sharenting phenomenon, the benefits that sharenting brings and the risks that it poses, with a view to identifying further avenues for research and developing policy recommendations.

Claire has recently completed work as co-investigator for the Observatory for the Monitoring for Data-Driven Approaches to Covid-19 (OMDDAC) project.   OMDDAC is a collaboration between Northumbria University & the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), funded by AHRC, which researches data-driven approaches to Covid-19, and is focused upon the legal, ethical, policy and operational challenges posed by data-driven approaches during the pandemic.  Claire led on OMDDAC's research with young people which asked 'Are young people aware of how data (including their own personal data) has been used during the pandemic and if so, what views do they hold about its use?'

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Data-driven decision-making: Exploring Children's Views, Bessant, C. 13 Oct 2021, People, Data & the Pandemic: launch of OMDDAC's final project report
  • 'Data-driven decision-making: Exploring Children's Views', a presentation given at 'Lessons for Future Data and AI Policy', an event hosted by the Observatory for Monitoring Data-Driven Approaches to Covid-19 (OMDDAC) at the Royal Overseas League, Bessant, C. 2 Nov 2021
  • Data-Driven Responses to COVID-19: Lessons Learned: OMDDAC Research Compendium, Allsopp, R., Bessant, C., Dawda, S., Ditcham, K., Emmett, C., Higgs, M., Janjeva, A., Li, G., Sutton, S., Warner, M., Oswald, M. 12 Oct 2021
  • Observing Data-Driven Approaches to Covid-19: Reflections from a Distributed, Remote, Interdisciplinary Research Project, Allsopp, R., Bessant, C., Ditcham, K., Janjeva, A., Li, G., Oswald, M., Warner, M. 17 Aug 2021, In: Journal of Legal Research Methodology
  • OMDDAC Practitioner Guidelines, Allsopp, R., Bessant, C., Dawda, S., Ditcham, K., Emmett, C., Higgs, M., Janjeva, A., Li, G., Sutton, S., Warner, M., Oswald, M. 12 Oct 2021
  • OMDDAC Snapshot Report 1: Data-driven Public Policy, Allsopp, R., Bessant, C., Dawda, S., Emmett, C., Higgs, M., Janjeva, A., Li, G., Oswald, M., Sutton, S., Warner, M. 18 May 2021
  • OMDDAC Snapshot Report 2: Tech-driven approaches to Public Health, Dawda, S., Allsopp, R., Bessant, C., Emmett, C., Higgs, M., Janjeva, A., Oswald, M., Li, G., Sutton, S., Warner, M. 18 May 2021
  • OMDDAC Snapshot Report 3: Policing and Public Safety, Janjeva, A., Allsopp, R., Bessant, C., Dawda, S., Emmett, C., Higgs, M., Li, G., Oswald, M., Sutton, S., Warner, M. 18 May 2021
  • 'She's a child. My Decision. When she's 18 she can make a decision. Exploring why parents and schools assume children are NOT the best people to consent to use of their information., Bessant, C. 9 Sep 2021, Contemporary Childhood Conference 2020

Current and Recent Projects

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • COVID-19: Observatory for Monitoring Data-Driven Approaches to COVID-19, Oswald, M. (Principal Investigator), Bessant, C. (Co Investigator), UK Research and Innovation, 04/11/20 - 03/11/21, 0.00
  • The Listening Fund, Bessant, C. (Principal Investigator), The Blagrave Trust, 01/04/18 - 31/03/19, £7,387.00

Professional Activity

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: Association of Internet Researchers 22nd Annual Conference (2021) Pre-Conference Doctoral Colloquium Workshop 2021
  • Invited talk: Sharenting: Parental use (and misuse) of social media and the impact on children 2021
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: Transformative Consumer Research Conference 2021 2021
  • Other: Are you guilty of 'sharenting'? Why there's now a shocking rise of children suing their parents for documenting their lives on social media 2021
  • Editorial work: Journal of Law, Technology and Trust (Journal) 2020
  • Other: Written evidence submitted on behalf of NINSO (Northumbria Internet & Society Research Group) to the Joint Committee on Human Rights in the context of the inquiry ‘The Right to Privacy (Article 8) and the Digital Revolution’ (Contributors: Dr Guido Noto La Diega, Claire Bessant, Daria Onitiu and Rachel Allsopp) (RTP0011) 2020
  • Invited talk: What would you rather be a Privacy Have or a Privacy Have-Not? 2020
  • Other: Sharenting: Six things parents should think about before hitting post on social media 2019
  • Other: BBC Radio 4 Women's hour Parenting Podcast 2019
  • Other: Invited Speaker on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour 2019

PGR Supervision

  • Noeleen Redmond Start Date: 06/05/2021
  • Caroline Hood A different approach: exploring whether an apprenticeship programme for solicitors can improve social mobility and widen participation. Start Date: 16/05/2019


  • Law PhD May 20 2021
  • Academic Studies in Education MA November 01 2011
  • Law LLM July 01 2002
  • Law LLB (Hons) July 01 1994
  • Solicitor of England and Wales
  • Legal Practice Course LPC 1994
  • Senior Fellow (SFHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2014

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