David Mead


  • 2.07 Earlham Hall

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Personal profile

Academic Background

Academic qualifications:

BA (Cantab, 1985), LLM (UCL, Joseph Hume scholar 1996).

I qualified as a solicitor in 1993 but am now non-practising.

Administrative Posts

I was Director of Learning and Teaching in the Law School 2007-2014 (save for the year 2012/13). From 2001-2005 I was the senior adviser in the Law School, with oversight of pastoral care and academic support, and from 2005-2006 I was Director of Careers.


I graduated in 1988 from the University of Cambridge. I qualified as a solicitor and worked in the litigation department of a large city firm before deciding to pursue an academic career. After a LLM at UCL, and handful of years at London Guildhall University I took up a lectureship at UEA in 2001 where I remained for eleven years. I rejoined the Law School at UEA in June 2013, having been – for the academic year 2012/13 – Professor of Public Law and UK Human Rights at the University of Essex. My research primarily focuses on protest & public order, and British human rights law and my teaching is in the areas of UK Public Law, UK and European Human Rights Law and Legal Issues in Free Speech as part of the Media Law LLM. I am Current Survey Editor for Public Law. I have catholic interests outside research and teaching: football (playing, coaching and watching though I am as baffled by the continual under-performance of Derby County as I am by the vagaries of the HRA), cycling, comedy/humour (watching and writing), photography and gardening.


  • 1996-2001 Lecturer and then senior lecturer at London Guildhall University   
  • 1996-1998 Visiting lecturer, Kings College London
  • 2001-2012 Lecturer, senior lecturer and professor, UEA Law School
  • 2012-2013 Professor of Public Law and UK Human Rights, University of Essex
  • 2013 -       Professor of UK Human Rights Law

External Activities

  • Consulted by Advisory Group on Stop and Search in Scotland on human rights aspects of consensual police searches
  • Gave expert witness evidence in Trenton Oldfield's (Boat race protester) deportation proceedings (2013)
  • Specialist advice to defendant's counsel in direct action protest case before the Supreme Court, DPP v Richardson [2014] 2014 8
  • Member of experts' panel on use of force at protests, convened by UN Special Rapporteur on the Use of Force and Extra-Judicial Killings (2014)
  • Adviser to McGill University AUT on proposed protocol on campus protest
  • Research cited before UKSC (application for leave) and NZSC (flag-burning protest)
  • Research and analysis referred to in OSCE/ODIHR Venice Commission Guidelines on Peaceful Assembly (2nd ed).
  • Contributor to the Equality and Human Rights Commission Annual Human Rights Review (chapters on free speech and freedom of assembly).
  • Invited by Home Office officials to meeting on reform of public order / protest law in light of coalition pledge
  • Policy advice to and speaker at Greenpeace conferences/seminars on protest and direct action
  • Co-hosted a “Civil Society” roundtable on the first day of the newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Peaceful Assembly Country Visit to the UK.
  • Advised Occupy Norwich group on the legalities of holding a protest march.
  • Radio interview BBC Radio FiveLive : St Paul’s occupation;
  • BBC Radio York on environmental protest;
  • CBC Radio 1 "Sunday Edition” an hour-long special kettling and the Toronto G20 one year on.
  • Regular speaker at regional Amnesty meetings
  • Various blog posts for The Guardian c.i.f. Liberty Central
  • “W(h)ither the right of peaceful protest?” UEA public debate with Chief Constable Peter Fahy of Greater Manchester Police
  • Current Survey editor for Public Law, and member of editorial board
  • Current Developments Correspondent for the UK Constitutional Law Association

Key Research Interests

My research largely falls into three areas: the regulation of protest and dissent, policing of protest, space and place for protest, and private law and protest; domestic human rights protection, under the Human Rights Act, and the constitutional implications of constitutionalising rights-claims; and policing and police powers, especially consensual exercises of power. My main research is in the area of peaceful protest and public order. Over the next three to five years, I aim to be working on the following projects:

  • “The relevance of place and space to the expression of dissent and peaceful protest”. This is loosely based on the “spatial turn” in law i.e. the infusion of legal geography and so will be inter-disciplinary in outlook. It will plot how place/space inform what we protest about, when we might protest, and where we might protest.
  • Assessing recent developments in the legal framework governing NGOs and activists, arguing that they have skewed political participation towards formal party involvement
  • “Don’t think of an elephant: the (mis)conceptualisation of human rights cases by the British courts”. This piece considers the ways in which judges, using Lakoff's terminology, mis-frame human rights cases - and the effects of that.
  • Kettling: recent legal developments with a comparative and practical policing study. Various forces outside the UK either do not use kettling/containment as a tactic or (in the case of Toronto) have disavowed its use – so this piece asks “what alternatives are there?” 
  • Further research on informed consent to police searches: common law comparisons, theoretical perspectives and, I hope, an empirical survey of the extent of public understanding of the law governing entries and searches by the police by consent. This builds on my two recent pieces in 2011 and 2012.
  • Further work analysing data obtained under FoI for arrest and charge under a series of statutory public order/protest offences across England and Wales, for the past ten years, broken down by force. Preliminary consideration shows considerable divergent use made by different forces of various offences as a means to control protesters.
  • Quantitative and qualitative investigation into the extent to which protesters (whether they be NGOs, loose groupings or individuals) have been exposed to the threat of on private/civil law remedies (such as but not solely SLAPPS) brought by commercial targets. This builds on the more doctrinal work in my 2013 Public Law piece.
  • Looking at the use of force as a process with a variety of entry-points, when dealing with protests
  • Development of some ideas about the functional value/public utility of protecting individual privacy.
  • Human rights education and citizenship teaching within schools.

David is willing to supervise students in the following areas:

  • Protest, Public Order and Peaceful Assembly
  • Direct Action
  • British, UK and ECHR Human Rights law
  • Human Rights Act
  • Free Speech/Hate Speech
  • Privacy
  • Terrorism
  • Police Powers
  • Public Law

Areas of Expertise

British/UK human rights law and civil liberties; police powers; peaceful protest law, public order law and direct action; free speech; judicial review; privacy; constitutional law.

Teaching Interests

  • I currently teach on two undergraduate modules, Constitutional and Administrative Law (1st year core module) and UK Human Rights Law (final year option). I also teach a module in the Media Law LLM, Issues in Free Speech. I have an interest in teaching (legal) skills within the curriculum.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions