What’s law got to do with it? ‘Dealing with the past’, legacy case prosecutions and the court of public opinion

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper merges the literature on transitional justice, crime and punishment, and law and performance to critically examine the prosecution of Soldier F for the deaths of unarmed civil rights protestors on Bloody Sunday in Derry in January 1972. Recognising the wider socio-political climate of fundamental disagreement over the causes, consequences and nature of violent conflict in the North of Ireland some 25 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, the paper draws on media analysis and social media coverage to suggest that opposition to proceeding with a criminal prosecution against Soldier F is primarily based on what are patently non-legal grounds. This has seen the formal criminal justice arena being displaced as the primary theatre of contest by what is often referred to as ‘the court of public opinion’. By dragging the case into the more favourable environment of the ‘court of public opinion’, supporters of Soldier F are disrupting the underpinning logic of the criminal trial as a ‘degradation ceremony’. In this new arena, military veterans, politicians and the right-leaning UK media have publicly demonstrated that they ‘stand with Soldier F’ as he fights his prosecution in the criminal court.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2023
EventSocio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference 2023 - Ulster University, Derry/Londonderry, United Kingdom
Duration: 04 Apr 202306 Apr 2023
https://www.slsa.ac.uk/images/conferences/SLSA_2023_abstract_book.pdf (Book of abstracts)


ConferenceSocio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleSLSA 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Transitional Justice
  • Criminal justice


Dive into the research topics of 'What’s law got to do with it? ‘Dealing with the past’, legacy case prosecutions and the court of public opinion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this