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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 integrates 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 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, and Director of Education for Postgraduate Law Programmes. Claire is currently Director of Education for Law. 

Claire Bessant

Campus Address

Room 309, City Campus East

Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE1 8ST

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Claire’s current research interests focus upon family privacy and upon the 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 is also interested in the concept of 'sharenting' (a term used when parents share information about their children online). She recently 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 is 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.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • 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 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
  • Sharenting in a socially distanced world, Bessant, C., Oswald, M., Nottingham, E. 12 Aug 2020
  • What would you rather be a Privacy Have or a Privacy Have-Not?, Bessant, C. 1 Mar 2020, TwentyForty: Utopias for a Digital Society, Berlin, Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society
  • Parents as Privacy Guardians, Bessant, C. 1 May 2019, Sixth Winchester Conference on Trust, Risk, Information and the Law
  • NINSO (The Northumbria Internet & Society Research Interest Group) – written evidence (IRN0035) Submission to House of Lords Select Committee on Communications Inquiry: “The Internet: to regulate or not to regulate?”, Noto La Diega, G., Bessant, C., Thanaraj, A., Giles, C., Kreitem, H., Allsopp, R. 23 May 2018
  • Online Publication Claims: A Practical Guide, Bessant, C. 26 May 2018, In: Communications Law

Current and Recent Projects

Professional Activity

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • 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
  • Consultancy: Guidance to Scottish Parliament 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

Qualifications

  • 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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