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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Professor Ian Leigh, LL.B, LL.M, Solicitor

Professor in Durham Law School
Ref Mentor, Durham Law School
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42824
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 42801
Room number: PCL119
Director of the Human Rights Centre

Contact Professor Ian Leigh (email at


After graduating in law and completing a research degree at the University College of Wales Aberystwyth Ian Leigh practised as a solicitor with a large local authority. On returning to academic life he held posts at several UK universities before being appointed as a Professor of Law in Durham in 1997. He has also held visiting positions at the universities of Otago, Florida, Melbourne, Virginia and Osgoode Hall Law School.

His research interests span legal aspects of religious liberty and freedom of conscience, national security, human rights adjudication and local government law. He is author of four research monographs and has edited a further three books, as well as publishing more than 60 articles in academic journals and chapters in edited collections. These include articles in the Cambridge Law Journal, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, McGill Law Journal, Modern Law Review, Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Parliamentary Affairs, Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, Public Law, Res Publica and the Review of International Studies.

His most recent books are Ahdar and Leigh Religious Freedom in the Liberal State (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 2013), International Intelligence Cooperation and Accountability (Routledge, 2011, edited with Hans Born and Aidan Wills). and (edited, with Roger Masterman) Rights Protection under the UK’s Statutory Bill of Rights: Constitutional and Comparative Perspectives. (Proceedings of the British Academy/OUP, 2013).

His current research projects are on religious adjudication and human rights, the recognition of freedom of conscience and intelligence oversight in a changing national security environment.

Professor Leigh has presented his research at academic conferences and to meetings of policy-makers, parliamentarians, and judges in more than 30 countries. In his policy work he has acted as an expert for the European Union (European Parliament, European Commission support for police reform in Myanmar/Burma and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency), the Council of Europe (Venice Commission), the United Nations Development Programme, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.


His policy reports include:

 H .Born, I. Leigh and A. Wills, Making International Intelligence Cooperation Accountable (Norwegian Parliament Printing House, Oslo, 2015), 196pp

 Making Intelligence Accountable (Norwegian Parliament Publishing House, 2005), which has been translated into 14 languages


and the Handbook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel, (OSCE, Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Warsaw, 2008), also in 7 languages, (both with Hans Born).

He acts as an international adviser to the ‘Impact of Religion – Challenges for Society, Law and Democracy’ Programme at the University of Uppsala, 2008-2018.



Postgraduate Supervision

Religious freedom under international, domestic and comparative law.

Law and religion.

Freedom of conscience.

Accountability and oversight of intelligence and security bodies.

Human rights of armed forces under international, domestic and comparative law.

Teaching Areas

Teaching Areas

Law and Religion

The Individual and the State

Advanced Public Law


Books: edited

Born H, Leigh I and Wills A International Intelligence Cooperation and Accountability (Routledge, 2011).

Masterman R and Leigh I Rights Protection under the UK’s Statutory Bill of Rights: Constitutional and Comparative Perspectives, (Proceedings of the British Academy Series No. 183,Oxford University Press 2013), 342 pp. + xi. ISBN 978-0-19-726537-6; ISSN 0068-1202.


Journal papers: academic

Leigh I 2014 ‘Local Government and Political Constitutionalism’ Public Law 43-55.


Leigh I and Hambler A 2014 ‘ Religious Symbols, Conscience, and the Rights of Others’ Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 3(1): 2-24.


Leigh I and Ahdar R 2012 ’ Post-Secularism and the European Court of Human Rights (or how God never really went away)’ Modern Law Review 75(6) 1065-1099.

Leigh I 2012 ‘Rebalancing Rights and National Security: Reforming UK Intelligence Oversight a Decade After 9/11’ Intelligence and National Security 27 (5): 721-737.

Leigh I 2012. ‘Balancing Religious Autonomy and Other Human Rights Under the European Convention’ Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 1:109-126.


Reports: Official

‘Parliamentary and Specialised Oversight of Security and Intelligence Activities in the United Kingdom’,contribution to the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) -European University Institute (EUI) study on Parliamentary oversight of civilian security and intelligence agencies in relevant EU member states and other major democracies for the European Parliament Directorate-General Internal Policies of the Union – Directorate C – Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs (2011), pp. 290-301.

Research Groups

Durham Law School

  • Gender & Law at Durham
  • Human Rights Centre
  • Islam, Law and Modernity

Research Projects

Durham Law School

  • Grants

Research Interests

  • Religious Liberty
  • National Security Law
  • Human Rights adjudication
  • Local government law and politics

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Leigh, I.D. & Born, Hans. (2008). Handbook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel. Warsaw: OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
  • Leigh, I.D. & Masterman, RMW. (2008). Making Rights Real: the Human Rights Act in its First Decade. Oxford: Hart Publishing.
  • Ahdar, R. & Leigh, I. D. (2005). Religious Freedom in the Liberal State. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Leigh, I.D. (2000). Law, Politics and Local Democracy. Oxford University Press.
  • Leigh, I.D. & Lustgarten, L. (1994). In From The Cold: National Security and Parliamentary Democracy. Oxford.: Clarendon Press.

Edited book

  • Born, Hans., Leigh, Ian. & Wills, Aidan. (2011). International Intelligence Cooperation and Accountability. Studies in intelligence series. London: Routledge.
  • Born, H., Johnson, L. & Leigh, I. D. (2005). Who's Watching the Spies? Establishing Intelligence Service Accountability. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books.

Chapter in book

  • Leigh, Ian (2019). Intelligence Law and Oversight in the UK. In Intelligence Law and Policies in Europe. Dietrich, Jan-Henrik & Sule, Satish C.H. Beck/ Hart. 535-585.
  • Leigh, Ian (2019). The Courts and Conscience Claims. In Religious Beliefs and Conscientious Exemptions in a Liberal State. Adenitire, John Hart Publishing.
  • Leigh, Ian & Njord, Wegge (2018). Intelligence and Oversight at the outset of the 21st century. In Intelligence Oversight in the Twenty-First Century: Accountability in a Changing World. Leigh, Ian & Njord, Wegge Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 7-24.
  • Leigh, I. & Wegge, N. (2018). Intelligence Oversight in the Twenty-First Century: Accountability in a Changing World. In Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Leigh, Ian (2018). The Legal Recognition of Freedom of Conscience as Conscientious Objection: Familiar Problems and New Lessons. In Research Handbook on Law and Religion. Ahdar, Rex J. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. 378-396.
  • Leigh, I. (2017). Conceiving Freedom of Religion in Terms of Obedience to Conscience. In Supreme Court Law Review, 2nd Series. Toronto: LexisNexis Canada. 79: 175-202.
  • Leigh, Ian (2017). Reversibility, Proportionality, and Conflicting Rights: Fernández Martínez v. Spain. In When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights: Conflict or Harmony?. Smet, S. & Brems, E. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 218-241.
  • Leigh, Ian. (2012). Objective, Critical and Pluralistic? Religious Education and Human Rights in the European Public Sphere. In Law, State and Religion in the New Europe: Debates and Dilemmas. Zucca, L. & Ungureanu,C. Cambridge Cambridge University Press. 192-214.
  • I. Leigh (2012). Religious Freedom in the UK After the Human Rights Act 1998. In Freedom of Religion under Bills of Rights. P. Babie & N. Rochow Adelaide: University of Adelaide Press. 239-252.
  • I. Leigh (2011). The Changing Nature of Local and Regional Democracy. In The Changing Constitution (7th ed.). J. Jowell & D. Oliver Oxford Oxford University Press. 237-259.
  • Leigh, I. (2010). Intelligence and the Law in the United Kingdom. In Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence. Johnson, L. New York: Oxford University Press. 640-656.
  • Leigh, I. (2010). Rendering an Account? Accountability, oversight and international intelligence cooperation. In Extraordinary Renditions and the Protection of Human Rights. Nowak, M. & Schmidt, R. Vienna: Neuer Wissenschaftlicher. 99-118.
  • Leigh, Ian (2010). The Role of Judges. In Commissions of Inquiry and National Security. Farson, Stuart & Phythian, Mark Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. 98-112.
  • Leigh, I. (2009). ‘Homophobic Speech, Equality Denial and Religious Expression’. In Extreme Speech and Democracy. Hare, I. & Weinstein, J. Oxford Oxford University Press. 375-399.
  • Leigh, Ian. (2008). ‘National Security, Religious Liberty and Counterterrorism’. In Intelligence, Security and Policing Post 9/11: The UK Response to the War on Terror. Moran, J. & Phythian, M. Palgrave. 115-134.
  • Leigh, I. (2007). ‘Parliamentary Oversight of Intelligence in the UK: A Critical Evaluation’. In Democratic Control of Intelligence Services: Containing Rogue Elephants. Born, H. & Caparini, M. Ashgate. 177-194.
  • Leigh, I.D., Jowell, J. & Oliver, D. (2007). The New Local Government. In The Changing Constitution. Oxford University Press. 6.
  • Leigh, I.D. (2006). (with H. Born) A Comparative Perspective on Accountability. In Strategic Intelligence. Johnson, L Prager. 5.
  • Leigh, I.D., Cane, P., & Conaghan, J. (2006). Entries on National Security, Interception of Communications, Surveillance, surreptitious, Official Secrets. In New Oxford Companion to Law. Oxford University Press.
  • Leigh, I.D., Goldschmidt, J., & Loenen, T. (2006). Religously-Motivated Disciminatory Speech: the Case of Homophobia. In Religious Pluralism. Insentia.
  • Leigh, I.D. (2004). The New Local Government. In The Changing Constitution. Jowell, J., & Oliver, D. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 305-322.

Journal Article

  • Leigh, Ian (2019). Religious Adjudication and the European Convention on Human Rights. Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 8(1): 1-27.
  • Leigh, Ian (2014). Local Government and Political Constitutionalism. Public Law 2014: 43-55.
  • Leigh, Ian & Hambler, Andrew (2014). Religious Symbols, Conscience, and the Rights of Others. Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 3(1): 2-24.
  • Leigh, I. & Ahdar, R. (2012). Post-Secularism and the European Court of Human Rights: or how God never really went away. Modern Law Review 75(6): 1064-1098.
  • I. Leigh (2011). Damned if they do, Damned if they don’t: the European Court of Human Rights and the Protection of Religion from Attack. Res Publica 17(1): 55-73.
  • Leigh, I. (2010). New Trends in Religious Liberty and the European Court of Human Rights. Ecclesiastical Law Journal 12(3): 266-279.
  • Leigh, I. (2009). Changing the Rules of the Game: Some Necessary Legal Reforms to United Kingdom Intelligence. Review of International Studies 35(4): 943-955.
  • Leigh, I. (2009). Recent Developments in Religious Liberty. Ecclesiastical Law Journal 11(1): 65-72.
  • Leigh, Ian. (2008). Hatred, Sexual Orientation, Free Speech and Religious Liberty. Ecclesiastical Law Journal 10(3): 337-344.
  • H. Born; & I. Leigh (2007). ‘Democratic Accountability of Intelligence Services’. Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Leigh, I. D. (2002). Taking Rights Proportionately: Judicial Review, the Human Rights Act and Strasbourg. Public Law 265-287.


  • Born, H., Leigh, I. & Wills, A. (2015). Making International Intelligence Cooperation Accountable. Geneva, Printing Office of the Parliament of Norway.
  • European Commission for Democracy for Law (Venice Commission) (2007). Report on Democratic Oversight of the Security Services in Council of Europe States. Council of Europe.
  • Born, H. & Leigh, I. D. (2005). Making Intelligence Accountable: Legal Standards and Best Practice for Oversight of Intelligence Agencies. Oslo, Publishing House of the Parliament of Norway, Oslo.

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • English Law: constitutional law
  • English Law: constitutional reform