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Professor Gavin Phillipson - University of Bristol. Bristol, , GB

Professor Gavin Phillipson Professor Gavin Phillipson

Professor of Public Law and Human Rights | University of Bristol


Specialist in free speech, media law, the right to privacy and the UK constitution

Areas of Expertise (13)

Right to Privacy

Media Law

Right to Protest

Public Law

Human Rights Act

British Constitution

Free Speech


Media Intrusion

Hate Speech

Anti-terrorism Law

Right to be Forgotten Online

Executive Prerogative Powers


Professor Gavin Phillipson is based in the Bristol Law School. As an expert in media law, he has explored media intrusion and the right to privacy from the media, along with the creation of media codes of practice, regulation of online speech, and the online propaganda of terrorism. Among his core interests is how the Human Rights Act links to the British Constitution, especially in the context of the political perceptions of excessive judicial power and contemporary controls on Executive prerogative powers.

Professor Philipson's work on defamation significantly impacted the reform of English libel law. He has been a member of the Ministry of Justice Working Group on Libel, and previously worked in worked in the House of Commons as an Academic Parliamentary Fellow (2018-19) and sits on the Code Committee of IMPRESS, the UK’s only Leveson-compliant press regulator.






Hate speech laws (presented by Professor Gavin Phillipson) Professor Gavin Phillipson - Parliament's Role in the Use of Military Action After the Syria Vote (10 Mar 2014) Prof. Gavin Phillipson (Professor, Durham Law School, UK) - Institute for Cultural Diplomacy



Media Appearances (5)

White people are discovering what police harassment feels like for the first time

Indy100  online


It’s a point we’re seeing reflected now in current lockdown discourse. “Genuinely bemused some police officers straying so clearly beyond their powers,” tweeted Gavin Phillipson, professor of Law at Bristol University, referring to the Cambridgeshire Police shopping debacle.

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Did Boris Johnson Lie to the Queen? Supreme Court Says Suspending Parliament Was Unlawful, Null and Void

Newsweek  online


Gavin Phillipson, professor of constitutional law at Bristol University, told Newsweek: "This is enormously significant. This is an ancient royal power over parliament and its scope has just been drastically curtailed by the courts so that it can no longer be used to prevent parliament from carrying out its democratic function.

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Supreme court accused of 'judicial activism' in 'radical' judgment that curbs PM's constitutional powers

The Telegraph  online


The supreme court was accused of “judicial activism” in declaring Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful, as legal experts described it as a major constitutional change that has radically curtailed the Government’s power....

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Queen Elizabeth Has Been Used As a Political Tool Over Parliament Suspension, Says Ex-U.K Government Legal Adviser

Newsweek  online


"Those kind of royal powers over parliament demonstrate the way in which parliament is substantially weaker than the U.S. Congress, which stands completely independent from the executive because of the American constitution's conception of the separation of powers," Phillipson told Newsweek.

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Constitutional law does not let ministers make a pawn of the Queen

The Times  online


The Queen gave royal assent late on Monday night to the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 5) Act 2019, a very unusual piece of legislation because it was opposed by the government, but supported by a majority (of one) in the House of Commons.

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Articles (6)

Regaining Digital Privacy? The New “Right to be Forgotten” and Online Expression

Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law

2018 This article considers how the newly-formulated “Right to be Forgotten” in Article 17 of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation will apply to “online expression”, that is, content placed online via social and other forms of media. It starts by seeking to refute the argument that the widespread sharing of personal information online means that digital privacy no longer matters, considering in particular the key role that privacy as informational control plays in self-actualisation and how the advent of a right to erase may alter judicial understandings of informational autonomy.

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Would use of the prerogative to denounce the ECHR "frustrate" the Human Rights Act? Lessons from Miller.

Public Law

2017 Considers, in light of the ruling in R. (on the application of Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (SC), whether the royal prerogative could be invoked to withdraw the UK from the ECHR while the Human Rights Act 1998 remained in force. Reviews the facts of Miller, and evaluates the conflicting dependence and bifurcation arguments on whether the provisions of the 1998 Act could operate as free-standing measures.

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Brexit, prerogative and the courts: why did political constitutionalists support the Government side in Miller?

University of Queensland Law Journal

2017 What makes the case of Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union of interest in a volume dedicated to the rise of judicial power? What makes it noteworthy as a point of contestation between legal and political constitutionalists? One might observe first that Miller was probably unique in British constitutional history in terms of the sheer scale of both academic and general public interest that it generated.

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EU law as an agent of national constitutional change : Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

Yearbook of European Law

2017 This article analyses the recent decision of the UK Supreme Court determining the UK’s ‘constitutional requirements’ for triggering Article 50 TEU. It demonstrates that the underlying disagreement in the case concerned the proper conceptualisation of EU law as it operates in the UK legal order.

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A Dive into Deep Constitutional Waters: Article 50, the Prerogative and Parliament

Modern Law Review

2016 This article analyses the Article 50 TEU debate and the argument that for the UK Government to trigger the formal withdrawal process without explicit parliamentary authorisation would be unlawful, because it would inevitably result in the removal of rights enjoyed under EU law and the frustration of the purpose of the statutes giving those rights domestic effect.

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Celebrity injunction: why the law is not an ass when it comes to privacy

The Conversation

2016 This article reflects on the media's response to the Supreme Court ruling that the public identification of a celebrity, who allegedly had a threesome with another couple, could have a negative impact on the couple’s young children, given the likely media firestorm. Specifically. Professor Phililipson unpacks the implications behind the conceptual distinction between breaching confidentiality and intrusion into privacy.

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