Dr Paul Wragg
My work life is spent pursuing three activities: first, my research into media law; secondly, my interest in employability, and, thirdly, my teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
I represent the School in a number of different ways. I am a member of the Impress code committee. In this role, I provide advice to the board and the public about its code of conduct and its compatibility with press freedom. Guidance produced by the committee will be used by the public when contemplating complaints about the press. I am the lead editor for Communications Law (Bloomsbury Press), one of the leading specialist journals devoted to media and technology law. I am an Associate Academic Fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, an organisation I have been connected to since October 2012. I am also the Media and Communications section convenor for the Society of Legal Scholars.
Within the School, I am Director of Employability. In this role I oversee the School’s strategy for assisting our students to enter the graduate market. It is my responsibility to ensure the initiatives and opportunities we create within the school, and the partnerships we establish with local, regional and London-based organisations, meet the goal of informing, connecting and empowering our students to realise their career ambitions. I am also Chair of the Faculty Employability Group and a member of the University’s Employability Group.
I have been at Leeds since September 2009, having previously taught at Durham University and the University of Birmingham. I qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and worked in practice in London, Leeds and Birmingham. I have held visiting fellowships at the University of Sydney and University of Melbourne. I teach on a number of courses, on subjects relating to Media Freedom, Contract Law and Employment Law.
I am principally interested in free speech theory and its application to contemporary legal problems, particularly in relation to press freedom, offensive social media expression and employee free speech rights. My current work focuses on press regulation and the implementation of Leveson’s recommendations for press reform.
I have been teaching law since 2000 on subjects as varied as Trusts & Equity, Contract Law, Public Law and Employment Law. In 2014/15 I shall be teaching on the following courses: Human Rights and Media Wrongs, Employment Law and Contract Law, as well as supervising dissertations.
I am happy to supervise students in the general areas of my research interests.
I am currently supervising Peter Coe (2013-2019) in his enquiry into privacy and press freedom.
‘Protecting Private Information of Public Interest: Campbell's Great Promise, Unfulfilled’, Journal of Media Law, 7.2 (2015), 225-250,
DOI: 10.1080/17577632.2015.1099844, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/89788/
According to the House of Lords decision in Campbell v MGN Ltd, a misuse of private information claim may succeed even though public interest expression is at stake. The post-Campbell jurisprudence, however, does not reflect this central tenet. Cases are not determined by balancing the weight of each claim but by a binary approach in which claims succeed or fail depending on whether public interest expression is present or not. By charting this development, this article argues that a greater sense of proportionality would be achieved if cases were decided not by the quality of expression but by the harm caused by it. By re-imagining Campbell as a four-part test, it will show how the current paternalistic and idiosyncratic influences on decision-making may be reduced significantly.
‘Free speech rights at work: resolving the differences between practice and liberal principle’, Industrial Law Journal, 44.1 (2015), 1-28,
DOI: 10.1093/indlaw/dwu031, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/83155/
ACAS reports increasing disciplinary action against employees over expression that employers dislike. Given the prominence of social media in contemporary life this is a significant current legal issue yet one which has attracted relatively little academic comment. This paper examines the compatibility of unfair dismissal doctrine in this context with traditional liberal principle. Arguably, doctrine provides only flimsy protection. Although the common law recognises the importance of individual autonomy generally when determining rights claims this well-established liberal value appears to have little influence on unfair dismissal doctrine. The dominant academic view on realising greater workplace human rights protection through greater application of the proportionality principle is unlikely to address this problem; reconceptualization of the substantive free speech right at stake is required. This paper offers a strategy on how this might be achieved – and so how differences between practice and principle might be reconciled – through a sympathetic reading of the Strasbourg and UK jurisprudence and potential policy-maker intervention.
‘The legitimacy of press regulation’, Public Law, April (2015), 290-307,
Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/98945/
This paper explores Lord Justice Leveson’s treatment of press freedom in his report on the culture and ethics of the press. It is less concerned with the particular conception that Leveson employs to justify his recommendations, more with the impression created that this conception is imperative and should be adopted by the prospective regulator. By exploring the case law and academic commentary, it will be argued that since Leveson’s model of press freedom is neither philosophically mandatory nor democratically mandated, his approach is unappealing. It will be argued that Leveson’s model of press freedom is a prospectively poor measure by which to judge future regulatory performance and should not be adopted by regulators when determining complaints.
‘Enhancing press freedom through greater privacy law: a UK perspective on an Australian privacy tort’, The Sydney Law Review, 36.4 (2014), 619-641,
Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/83154/
In light of previous inquiries identifying areas of concern in Australia’s privacy law provisions, the Australian Law Reform Commission (‘ALRC’) recently devised a new tort that, if implemented, would better protect individuals from serious invasions of privacy. Although the tort was designed principally with new technologies in mind, there has been vociferous concern that such a tort might unduly inhibit press freedom. This response is familiar to United Kingdom (‘UK’) commentators who have seen the press, in particular, react similarly to common law developments in privacy law. Yet that experience has not been entirely unfavourable to the UK press; indeed, the jurisprudence discloses a generous treatment of the term ‘public interest’, which has kept interference with press activity to a minimum. In light of the reference to press freedom within the ALRC’s proposed tort, and given the absence of an express constitutional provision protecting Australian press speech, this article argues that the UK experience shows how, counterintuitively, the ALRC’s proposed tort could actually enhance, rather than diminish, press freedom protection in Australia.
‘The Benefits of Privacy-Invading Expression’, Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 64.2 (2013), 187-208,
‘Mill's Dead Dogma: the Value of Truth to Free Speech Jurisprudence’, Public Law 2013, 363-385,