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BA, MA (OXON), BCL (OXON)
School of Law
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 484679
Headington Hill Hall, H2.15
Chara completed her undergraduate degree and BCL at Merton College, Oxford. She joined Brookes in 2003. Before that she taught at Oxford University.
Chara is currently supervising the following PhD students:
Chara welcomes applications from research students on any aspects of hate crime, hate speech, regulation of social media and AI.
Chara's research interests lie in the area of criminal law, and she is particularly interested in the intersection between crime and technology. She has a particular expertise in hate crime and hate speech, and her current focus is on the regulation of online hate, and on the liability of social media companies.
Her work has been cited extensively in a number of law reform projects relating to hate crime and online communications such as by the Law Commission and Lord Bracadale's reform of hate crime law in Scotland. She was a member of Judge Marrinan's Core Expert Group as part of his review of Northern Irish hate crime legislation, and led on issues relating to online hate speech. She has also completed a number of projects for the Council of Europe including ones based in Armenia and Bosnia. Her work has been cited in various Parliamentary Reports, and she has given oral evidence before the Parliamentary Petitions Committee on the Inquiry into Tackling Online Abuse. She is regularly consulted by various law reform and governmental bodies both nationally and internationally for her expertise on hate speech.
From 2019-2021 she was Head of Social Sciences Research at the Ethical AI Institute based at Oxford Brookes.
She is an AHRC Peer Reviewer and is the national reporter for Hate Speech for the British Association of Comparative Law (BACL).
She has appeared on Radio 4's the Long View and File on Four.
This article is about online hate speech propagated via platforms operated by social media companies (SMCs). It examines the options open to states in forcing SMCs to take responsibility for the hateful content that appears on their sites. It examines the technological and legal context for imposing legal obligations on SMCs, and analyses initiatives in Germany, the UK, the EU and elsewhere. It argues that whilst SMCs can play a role in controlling online hate speech, there are limitations to what they can achieve.
This article examines the concept of ‘equality' in the context of the sentencing of religious offenders. Judges are often reluctant to consider the importance of the religious beliefs of the offender during sentencing for fear that this is tantamount to giving them an advantage over non-religious offenders. This article explores the extent to which the religion of the offender should be taken into account at the sentencing stage in light of a more fully developed concept of ‘equality' which has emerged from discrimination law. It will be argued that ‘formal equality' requires that the religion of the offender be taken into account where it fits with established grounds relevant to ‘offence seriousness' or mitigation, and that the concept of ‘substantive equality' requires deeper consideration to be given to how established sentencing principles may have a greater impact on the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, such as religion.
The function of religion in the sentencing phase of a criminal trial has been comparatively neglected. The structure of the European Convention does not leave it open simply to ignore religion in sentencing--that route to neutrality in relation to religion has been closed. Instead, the developing jurisprudence under the Convention has created obligations in relation to both the manifestation of religion through offending, and the treatment of repeat, conscientious offenders. These obligations have the potential to give too much emphasis to the protection of religious conviction over other pressing state interests, in particular the rights and interests of others, and need to be read narrowly.
This paper explores the relationship between religion and sentencing. It considers what problems may arise when a judge fails to take proper account of a defendant's religious beliefs at the sentencing stage, or takes improper account. It highlights the need for more guidance to be given to judges in order to ensure greater consistency and fairness in sentencing outcomes.
This article examines the new offence of inciting religious hatred under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. A historical analysis of existing provisions aimed at legislating against racial hatred and blasphemy is adopted, in order to determine whether the creation of this new offence is justified and necessary. We conclude that although the new offence may fulfil an important symbolic role in a post September 11th environment, in its current form the legislation has not taken sufficient account of the precedent of racial hatred and blasphemy laws, or of more general questions about the criminalisation of hatred.
Anti-social behaviour: local authority responsibility and the voice of the victim. Cambridge Law Journal, 2003, 62(2), 305-334/, co-written with Susan Bright
ASBOs - Criminal Penalties or Civil Injunctions?, Cambridge Law Journal 2003, 62 (3), 583-586 , 2003
‘Online Hate’, Equally ours and Oxford Brookes conference on ‘Online Hate Crime and Hate Speech’, London, 2019
‘Online Harms White Paper’, Equally Ours, Hate Crime Advisory Group, London, 2019
‘Online Harms White Paper: How to define harmful content online and how to scope the statutory duty of care & the Codes of Practice’ Online Harms Seminar, Queen Mary, London University, June 2019
‘Online hate: Extending protection to gender and disability’, Policy Summit on Disablist/Misogynist Hate Speech, UEA, June 2019
‘The Legal Regulation of Online Hate’ Law Commission Hate Crime Launch Event and Academic Consultation, Oxford Brookes, March 2019
'Moderation in all things? The role of the media' Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, at event ‘A More Social Media: Human Rights in the Digital Public Sphere’, Dublin, November 2018
'Regulating Online Hate' SLS Conference, Queen Mary University, London, September 2018
'The Role of Third Party Intermediaries in the Regulation of Online Hate' INHS Conference, University of Ontario, Institute of Technology, Canada, May 2018
'Online Intermediaries and Hate' Wolverhampton University, May 2018
'Regulating Hate Crime and Hate Speech in England and Wales', International Symposium, Hate Crime: State of Affairs from a Comparative Perspective, Bilbao, September 2017
'Taking Action Against Hate-Crime in Post-Brexit Britain: Protecting Vulnerable Groups and Promoting a Culture of Tolerance and Inclusivity' by Public Policy Exchange. Chair. London, June 2017.
'Regulating Online Hate' Hate Crime in Europe Conference, Gothenberg University, Sweden, February 2017
‘Reforming Cyberhate Laws’ Law Reform Now Conference, Sussex University, September 2016
‘Cyberhate Regulation’ SLS Conference, Oxford University, September 2016
‘Rethinking Cyberhate’ Rethinking Cybercrime Conference, UCLAN, June 2016
‘The Power of the Electronic Word’ HSS Research Conference, Oxford Brookes University, June 2016
‘The Victims of Hate Crime’ International Network for Hate Studies Conference, Limerick University, May 2016
‘Regulating Hate in the Digital Age’ Globalisation and Hate Conference, Sussex University, May 2015
'Equality and the Victims of Hate Crime' International Network for Hate Studies Conference, Sussex University, May 2014
'Regulating Hate Speech Online' International Network for Hate Studies Conference, Sussex University, May 2014
'Legislating Against Hatred: The Law Commission Proposals on Extending Existing Hate Crime Legislation' SLS, Edinburgh, September 2013
'The Religion of the Offender and the Concept of Equality in the Sentencing Process' LARSN, Cardiff, May 2013
'Hate Crimes and Equality, Hate and Blame Colloquium', Oxford Brookes, June 2012
'Taking Due Account of Religion in Sentencing' at the Crime, Religion and History Conference, Oxford Brookes, January 2008
‘Racial and Religious Hatred: A History of Hate Crime’ OBU, May 2007
‘Anti-Social Behaviour Law: Lessons from America’ Comparative Perspectives on Legal Problems, OBU, September 2006,
‘Asbos and Human Rights’ Human Rights Forum, OBU, February 2005
'Anti-Social Behaviour Law: Lessons from America' SLS Sheffield September 2004
‘The Use and Abuse of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders’ SLSA, Nottingham Law School, April 2003