School of Law, Politics and Sociology

Sussex Salon

The Sussex Salon series offers an alternative evening out and highlights research at the University that engages with contemporary issues.

Can elections be made fairer by regulating fake news?

Is democracy being undermined by digital disinformation? Are elections free and fair?

Tuesday 19th November 2019, 7:30pm to 9:00pm

Brighton Dome

At the upcoming Sussex Salon experts from Sussex University and special guests will discuss the latest research on how to regulate the trolls and bot accounts that amplify fake news across the internet. Who is responsible and who can be held to account? Are the same politicians and social media giants both the cause of the problem and the source of the proclaimed solution? We will look at the social scientific research that can help us safeguard democracy and free expression, including citizens’ right to be informed.

The Sussex Salon will be held in the intimate setting of the Museum Lab at the Brighton Dome from 7:30pm.


Professor Chris Marsden - Professor of Internet Law, University of Sussex


Dr Sam Power- Lecturer in Corruption Analysis, Department of Politics, University of Sussex

Dr Duncan Campbell – Investigative Journalist and Senior Visiting Fellow, University of Sussex

Dr Emma Briant - Academic and Researcher, Bard College, New York (by Skype)


Maria Bjarnadottir - PhD Researcher, University of Sussex and Vice Chair, Icelandic Media Commission

Clare Hoban - Media Law Solicitor

Tickets can be booked through or by calling the Brighton Dome Ticket Office on 01273 709709

The Gender Pay Gap: Myths and Realities

2018 was the first year that organisations of over 250 people in the UK were required by law to publish the median and mean average pay of women and of men they employed.

After studies showed that the UK has one of the largest pay ‘gaps’ in Europe, there was great controversy in the media. Amongst the outrage, there was a YouGov poll which discovered that, despite publication of the figures, 23% of men don’t believe that a gap exists!

Research is wide ranging: one researcher suggests the gap starts with children’s pocket money and another that it’s a ‘tax on maternity’.
This Sussex Salon, timed close to International Women’s Day and in anticipation of the release of the second gender pay gap reports, provides an expert panel to answer questions and lead discussion on the myths and realities of the gender pay gap.

Speaker line-up:

• Bev Barstow, Branch Secretary of the Women’s Equality Party Brighton and Hove, former University of Sussex student

• Geraldine Healy, Professor of Employment Relations at Queen Mary University of London and Founding Director of the Centre for Research and Equality

• Dr Joanna de Groot – Senior Lecturer in History at the University of York, former President of UCU and current delegate to the TUC women’s Conference

Chair: Dr Charlotte Skeet, Lecturer in Law, Co-Director of the Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research and University of Sussex Equality Officer for UCU.

Miscarriages of Justice - Is there life after life? 

Paddy Armstrong spent 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. In his words:

‘The truth is, I’ve lived three very different lives: the one before prison; the one in prison; and my life since then. It has taken years to make sense of it all, but now I’ve found a voice to speak about it.’

This Sussex Salon will consider ‘is there life after life?’ for those who suffer a wrongful conviction.

The panel includes:

Paddy Armstrong – Author of Life after Life

Mary-Elaine Tynan – Documentary maker, author, journalist and ghostwriter of Life after Life

Jon Robins – Author, Journalist and Editor at


Prevent: A Toxic Brand? 

Recent major terrorist attacks in the UK have once again placed a spotlight on the effectiveness of the UK’s approach to preventing violent extremism. For over a decade the Prevent Strategy has been a key strand of the UK’s counter-terrorism approach.

Evolving under different governments, Prevent aims to challenge extremist ideology and support those who are vulnerable to radicalisation, in a bid to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.

Critics have branded Prevent as “toxic”, potentially alienating individuals and communities.  But many of those working on the ground have highlighted the value of certain aspects of the strategy.

During a stimulating and lively discussion, pressing and unavoidable questions were debated including: is Prevent counter-productive?; Where does the balance lie between security and freedom of speech? What, if anything, should replace Prevent?

The event was chaired by Dr Judith Townend, Lecturer in Media & Information Law, University of Sussex, with Paul Bowen QC, Barrister, Brick Court Chambers, Sgt David Kent, Counter Terrorism Policing South East and Tom Martin, Lecturer in International Relations at Sussex University.


Does Prison Work? 

The current programme of prison reform is underway ushering in an era of building 'new and improved' mega prisons to house a prison population that has doubled since the 90’s from 40,000 to over 85,000.

Michael Howard famously cried in 1993 that ‘Prison Works’, a philosophy that apparently still remains prevalent. But with perpetually high rates of re-offending and increasing costs has the time come to ask more radical questions around the purpose and appropriateness of imprisonment as a punishment in the 20th Century.

Is it time to ask whether we should have prisons at all? In short, does prison work? 

The event was chaired by Dr John Dearlove, with Dr David Maguire, University of Oxford and Marie Hutton, Lecturer in Law, University of Sussex.


Who Should Pay for Access to Justice? 

Since the introduction of fees to employment tribunals, the Justice Committee has highlighted that there has been a 70% drop in the number of cases brought and expressed its concern that the government’s actions have had a detrimental effect on access to justice. And yet, the Justice Committee has no objection to the principle of charging fees to court users, and even expressed the view that a degree of financial risk is an important discipline to those considering legal action, as long as access to justice is preserved.

Should access to justice be free at the point of delivery? Or should it be viewed as any service?

The session addressed these questions, with an expert panel from the University of Sussex’s School of Law, Politics and Sociology, which included Dr Amir Paz-Fuchs, Senior Lecturer in Law and Director of Sussex Clinical Legal Education and Dr Lucy Welsh, Solicitor and Lecturer in Law, and further afield the panel included Lyzette Hanna, Advice Session Supervisor, Central and South Sussex Citizens Advice, Professor John Dearlove, (chair) and Dr Maria Moscati, Lecturer in Family Law.


Right to Die?

Should the UK adopt a legal right to die? It’s a debate in which both sides cite evidence - based and moral arguments to support their case, and one that intensifies with every attempt by courts around the world to address the current deadlock.

This salon featured Paul Bowen QC, Dr Ruth Stirton, Lecturer in Healthcare Law and Medical Ethics at the University of Sussex, Jo Bridgeman, Professor of Healthcare Law and Feminist Ethics at the University of Sussex, and Andrew Sanders, Professor of Criminal Law and Criminology, who considered the arguments on both sides, as well as questions of doctors’ duty to their patients, euthanasia, and ‘suicide clinics’ in Switzerland.


Does the UK have a corruption problem?

UK scandals have ranged from multi-billion pound arms deals such as the Al Yamamh case in 2007 to the 2008 parliamentary expenses episode. Has the UK sleep-walked in to a situation where corrupt practices are much more prevalent than many realise? If so, what can and should be done about it? Is the UK government up to the task of tackling corruption, or is it in many ways complicit in its development? 

These questions were considered by the expert panel which included Robert Barrington (Executive Director of Transparency International UK), Dr Liz David Barrett (Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption), Professor Dan Hough (Chair, Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption), and Professor John Dearlove.


Who's Afraid of the Human Rights Act?

Hailed as an Act to 'bring rights home', the UK Human Rights Act was passed in 1998 with cross-party support. It has come under attack from successive governments and the media, blamed for a wide variety of ills: from exploitation by convicted criminals to unbalancing the constitution.

In this instalment of the Sussex Salon Series, the panel explored why some critics deem it 'insufficiently British', asked what a proposed Conservative British Bill of Rights would look like, and considered what it would mean to lose the Human Rights Act altogether.

The panel included Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, Professor John DearloveDr Charlotte Skeet, Paul Bowen QC and Bella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty.

June 16 2015

The Future of Europe

Experts debate the future of Europe 

As banks in Cyprus closed to prevent mass withdrawals of cash, a panel of experts from the Sussex European Institute (SEI) discussed the future of Europe at the latest in the Sussex Salon series of debates.

The panel at the latest European-themed Salon comprised:

  • SEI Co-Director and Professor of Law Sue Millns;
  • former SEI Co-Director, Emeritus Professor of European Economic Integration and one-time Chief Economist at the Foreign Office, Jim Rollo:
  • Sussex alumnus Stephen Booth, now Research Director of the London-based Open Europe think tank,
  • and former MP Roger Casale, founder of the New Europeans network aimed at promoting European citizenship.

A wide-ranging question-and-answer session and debate followed brief introductions to the topic from each of the panellists.

The subjects discussed included:

  • what the concept of European citizenship entails;
  • whether restoring or retaining national currencies is a way out of the euro crisis;
  • why European institutions have become so disconnected from the public;
  • the costs and benefits of, and possible alternatives to, Britain remaining an EU member.

March 19 2013

The body beautiful – is it time to cover up?

Do images of flawless, slim models make us feel bad about ourselves? Should pictures of perfect bodies be airbrushed out of our advertising? What influence do idealised fashion shots and celebrity photos wield over our self-esteem?

These are some of the questions tackled by a panel of academic experts in conversation with the public audience.

The panel will also consider whether images of the ‘beauty ideal’ in fashion, advertising and the media should be more tightly regulated, as in the advertising of alcohol and tobacco and will examine what our obsession with the body beautiful says about our society.

The panel included:

  • Andrea Cornwall, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Sussex. Professor Cornwall is a political anthropologist whose research interests include development and empowerment, sex, gender, the politics of the body and sexual and reproductive rights;
  • Carol Dyhouse, Research Professor in History at the University of Sussex. Professor Dyhouse is author ofGlamour: Women, History, Feminism. Her research focuses on the social history of nineteenth and twentieth century Britain, and in particular on gender, education and women's lives.
  • Dr Emma Weddell, a University of Sussex sociologist. Her research expertise focuses on eating disorders and their causes.
  • Gillian Bendelow, Professor of Sociology at the University of Sussex. Professor Bendelow is author of Health Emotion and The Body. An established medical sociologist, her research interests include chronic pain and ‘contested’ illness conditions; mental health and emotional wellbeing.

April 3 2012

Do we need Black History Month? 
Celebrated in the UK since 1987, Black History Month (October) was founded to celebrate and highlight the Afro-Caribbean and Asian contribution to our history and culture.

But 25 years on, how important is Black History Month when it comes to celebrating black achievement or highlighting prejudice and inequality – and should we separate black success from the mainstream anyway?

These are some of the questions addressed by a panel of speakers at the Sussex Salon.

The panel of speakers includes Sussex alumna and one of the founders of the UK Black History Month, Linda Bellos.

The full panel is:

  • Clive Webb, Professor of Modern American History at Sussex, whose research interests include American and British race and the black civil rights struggle. He is currently researching two books: one on mob violence against Mexicans in the United States and another on the influence of the American civil rights movement on British race relations;
  • Dr Rumy Hassan, a political economist and Senior Lecturer in SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research. Dr Hassan also has a research interest in critiquing British multiculturalism;
  • Linda Bellos OBE is Chair of the Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners, which supports professionals who advise public, private and third sector businesses on delivering equality.  The black, Jewish, lesbian one-time politician was once described in the Guardian as “perhaps the angriest woman of all”. She is a diversity champion, businesswoman and gay activist – and an alumna of Sussex;
  • Althea Wolfe of the Brighton and Hove Black History Project, which seeks to reveal Brighton and Hove’s hidden past and helps local people get involved in mapping their own history of the city.

23 October 2012

 Is it time for the UK to become a republic?
The country may have celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in spectacular style this year, but is everything really happy and glorious with the monarchy in 21st-century Britain – or is it time for Britain to become a republic?

What can we learn from monarchies that have become republics in the past? Does the issue even matter in the modern world?

A panel of experts including Sussex academics and supporters of both royalty and republicanism discussed these and other questions at the Sussex Salon event .

The speakers were:

  • Rafe Heydel-Mankoo is an historian and one of North America’s leading royal commentators. He is an expert in monarchy, protocol, honours and British traditions and a Research Associate at the leading public policy think tank ResPublica;
  • Paul Myles of the Thomas Paine Society, which promotes the Lewes-based revolutionary thinker’s contribution to democracy and freedom;
  • Graham Smith heads the organisation Republic, who campaign for a democratic alternative to the monarchy. He has been outspoken on issues including Prince Charles’s lobbying of government departments, and is calling for an honours system decided by the people;
  • Richard Whatmore, Professor of Intellectual History and the History of Political Thought at Sussex, whose interests include the history of democracy, the French Revolution and the Enlightenment.

Novermber 27 2012

Are EU countries right to ban the wearing of religious symbols?

The debate featured University of Sussex academics Dr Alana Lentin (a sociologist and author of The Crises of Multiculturalism) and law lecturer Dr Charlotte Skeet, who is a member of the Human Rights Lawyers Association and whose research interests include constitutional law and feminist legal theory.

The panel discussed the legal, ethical and practical implications of banning of religious symbols - a move that has already caused controversy in France, Belgium and Italy. Joining the Sussex academics will be University of Sussex Chaplain, Chaplain to the Queen and BBC radio presenter the Reverend Canon Dr Gavin Ashenden and Dr Peter Cave, Chairman of the Humanist Philosophers of Great Britain and author of Do Llamas Fall in Love?33 Perplexing Philosophy Puzzlesand Humanism: A Beginner's Guide.

February 2 2011

What is the role of law in international affairs?

The Salon debate asked questions such as 'Does international law play any role in the governance of conflict zones such as Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan' and 'How can such law be best enforced?'.

Speakers from Sussex include Craig Barker (Professor of International Law and International Relations) and Dr Tarik Kochi (Lecturer in Law and International Security and author of The Other's War: Recognition and the violence of ethics).

Barrister Bill Bowring (author of The Degradation of the International Legal Order?) is a professor at Birkbeck, University of London and Dr John Strawson (author of Partitioning Palestine) is from the University of East London.

March 9 2011

What does a festival add to a city?

This debate was chaired by Professor Gillian Bendelow.

Panelists tackled questions such as:

  • Are arts festivals the preserve of the well-off and educated, or do they play an essential role in the life of a city and its residents?
  • Should festivals offer something for everyone, or should it be art for art's sake?
  • Is public spending on cultural events justified in times of economic hardship - or is it a valuable investment in the development of a city's identity?

Panelists include:

  • Andrew Comben, CEO of Brighton Dome and Festival.
  • Professor Steve Miles, Director of Postgraduate Studies in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Brighton. Professor Miles was part of the management group of Impacts 08, the research programme designed to assess the social, cultural and economic impacts of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture. At Northumbria University he was Head of Research for the Centre for Cultural Policy and Management, where he conducted a large-scale research project into the impact of cultural investment on NewcastleGateshead Quayside.
  • Dany Louise, a strategic facilitator and writer for the creative industries. She has worked previously for Brighton and Hove City Council as Creative Industries Manager and now advises creative organisations on arts strategy, as well as writing about the arts in the press.
  • Dr Monica Sassatelli, Visiting Research Fellow at Sussex, where she is working with fellow sociologist Professor Gerard Delanty on the project 'Art festivals and European public culture'. She is author of Becoming Europeans: Cultural identity and cultural policies.

May 22 2011

The Expert Patient: is lay knowledge and self-diagnosis actually good for our health or medical science?

Have you ever gone online to check out your cold symptoms only to come away thinking you had a life-threatening disease?

Are doctors ever right to keep patients and relatives ignorant of medical knowledge? Who is the expert on their own condition: patient or doctor? Can the man in the street ever fully understand medical science? Or could they help change the medical profession for the better?

These issues and more are examined in the first of a series of public debates that mark a new collaboration between the University of Sussex and Brighton Dome.

The Sussex Salon Series of round-table discussions offer an alternative evening out and includes views from academics and other experts as well as the audience, who will have a chance to ask questions or register their views using an electronic voting system.

The aim is to highlight research at the University that engages with contemporary issues in a way that will appeal to a wide audience.

The practice of debating intellectual matters in public places such as coffee shops was a part of everyday life in 18th-century Europe. Such events were were known as "salons", hence the title of this university series.

The first salon event - 'The Expert Patient: is lay knowledge and self-diagnosis actually good for our health or medical science?' - took place on Wednesday 6 October 2010 at 8pm. Panelists included:

  • Writer, consultant and mindfulness coach Ed Halliwell, who writes for the Guardian newspaper on health, well-being and religious issues;
  • Sally Smith QC, a barrister who specializes in medical law and who has acted in numerous high-profile cases;
  • University of Sussex Professor of Sociology Gillian Bendelow, whose research covers areas including chronic illness, pain and 'contested' conditions; health promotion and lay concepts of health and illness;
  • University of Sussex Senior lecturer in Law Jo Bridgeman, who whose principal areas of interest are responsibilities to children, legal theory and the care of children and whose work includes research into the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry and its conclusions on the care of child heart patients.
  • University of Sussex Lecturer in Sociology Dr Catherine Will, whose work on the sociology of science and technology, social and healthcare policy includes investigations into clinical trials and over the counter self-medication.

October 6 2010

Brave new world or same old spin?

Post expenses scandal and mid coalition, have we entered a 'new politics'? Or is it business as usual behind the spin at Westminster?

These are the questions that leading academics discussed with Brighton's Green MP Caroline Lucas in the November 2010 debate in the Sussex Salon series.

The Salon debate was a lively affair for the audience and the panelists, who included:

  • Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, who is the first Green Party MP to serve in the House of Commons and as such has enjoyed a unique view of life inside of Parliament;
  • Paul Webb, Professor of Politics and Contemporary European Studies at the University of Sussex. He is an expert in representative democracy, British and comparative Party politics and electoral processes. He currently convenes and runs courses on The Politics of Change: The Thatcher Years and UK Parties and Voters. He is currently researching gender and the Conservative Party and is author of The Modern British Party System;
  • Tim Bale, Professor of Comparative, European and British Politics at the University of Sussex. He is widely published and a regular commentator in the media on the coalition government and the evolution of the Conservative Party under David Cameron. He is author of The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron.
  • Luke Martell, Professor of Political Sociology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Sussex. His main interests are in globalisation, socialism and social democracy, New Labour and the third way and environmentalism.He is writing a book on The Global Left for Polity Press.
  • Dr Charlotte Skeet, Lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex, whose research interests include human rights, constitutionalism and gender. She is a member of Rights of Women; the Human Rights Lawyers Association and Unlock Democracy.
What difference have civil partnerships made?

With the advent of civil partnerships, have all the debates now been won when it comes to same-sex rights? Or are there still political, social and religious obstacles en route to equality?

These were the questions highlighted in a lively panel discussion featuring gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and campaigner Simon Fanshawe at Brighton Dome on Wednesday 1 December 2010 - and there was a chance for the audience to join in with questions and opinions of their own.

The debate is the third in the highly popular Sussex Salon series, organised by the University of Sussex School of Law, Politics and Sociology, in association with Brighton Dome.

The expert panel, which includes University academics who are leaders in the fields of law, politics and sociology, will discuss same-sex issues, from partners and parenting to UK policy. The panellists are:

  • Gay rights activist, campaigner and writer Peter Tatchell. He has been campaigning for human rights for over 40 years, on issues of democracy, civil liberties, social equality, environmental protection, peace and global justice. The University of Sussex made Mr Tatchell an honorary Doctor of Letters at the 2010 Summer Graduation in July.
  • Writer, broadcaster and campaigner Simon Fanshawe was a law student at Sussex from 1975-78 and is now chairman of Council - the University's governing body. He writes for a number of national papers and magazines, is a leading champion of diversity and has been active in gay rights for 30 years.
  • Dr Ben Fincham is a Lecturer in Sociology and an academic within the University's Centre for Gender Studies, whose principal research areas include the relationship between work and mental health and gender, suicide and death;
  • Craig Lind is a Senior Lecturer in Law and a member of the University's Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence. Research interests include family law, sexual identity in different cultures and fatherhood, particularly in the context of the regulation of assisted reproduction;
  • Brighton poet, writer and former Sussex student Maria Jastrzebska, who is co-founder of Queer Writing South.

December 1 2010