Professor Paul Wragg

Professor Paul Wragg


My research interests relate to media law.

I have written extensively on privacy and press freedom.  My monograph on the compatibility of compulsory press regulation with press freedom was published by Hart in May, 2020.  I am co-editor (with Professor András Koltay) of a collection of papers examining comparative privacy and defamation laws, published by Edward Elgar in July 2020. I was previously editor-in-chief of Communications Law (2016-2019).

I am an AHRC major grant holder (AH/R00644X/1).

I am co-host of the Media Law Podcast.

I am a board member of the campaign group Hacked Off, which supports victims of press abuse.

I also sit on the code committee of IMPRESS, the UK’s only officially recognised press regulator.

I have been at Leeds since September 2009, having previously taught at Durham University and the University of Birmingham.  Both my LLB and PhD are from Durham University.  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. 

At Leeds, I was Director of Employability until 2017 and oversaw the School’s strategy for preparing our students for the graduate market.  I was also Chair of the Faculty Employability Group and a member of the University’s Employability Group.  I am part of the School’s REF reading panel.

Research interests

I have a number of research interests that coalesce around my primary interest in free speech theory.  This takes in aspects of legal theory, regulatory theory, political philosophy, moral philosophy, and linguistic philosophy.  My work is heavily influenced by the political philosophy of John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant.  I have been fascinated, for a long time, with the dynamic interplay between press freedom and privacy rights in the UK and European Court of Human Rights case law and, more recently, on the apparent dichotomy between press freedom and (meaningful) press regulation.  It is a feature of my work that I argue against the balancing of competing rights to free speech and privacy (or, as I have also written about, employer rights to discipline and dismiss) and, instead, argue in favour of using the concept of coercion as an analytical tool to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate rights claims (see especially 'Protecting private information of public interest: Campbell’s great promise, unfulfilled' (2015) 7(2) JML 225).  My work has been published in leading journals in the UK and abroad, such as Public Law, Sydney Law Review, Industrial Law Journal, the Journal of Media Law, and the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly.  It has been referred to by, amongst others, a House of Lords select committee on press freedom, the Australian Law Reform Commission, and mentioned in the Supreme Court.  I am regularly invited to speak at conferences, to academics, non-academic end users, and policy-makers.  I have given presentations in the UK and around the world, including the USA, Australia, India, Japan, and much of continental Europe.

My monograph for Hart publishing, entitled 'A Free and Regulated Press: Defending Coercive Independent Regulation', was published in May 2020.  It sets out an alternative theory of press freedom and so defends a scheme of meaningful press regulation that would meet Lord Justice Leveson's conclusion, in his 2012 report on press culture and ethics, that 'real harm to real people' is a serious contemporary problem deserving of effective resolution.  This scheme will be distinctive in advancing the (neglected) liberal view on press regulation/press freedom in contrast to the orthodox claims of the political left and right which insists press freedom is a teleological (ie purposive) concept.  By rejecting this view, and arguing press freedom can be understood only on consequentialist grounds (relating to harm), the book shows how the paradox in particularly leftish thought that press freedom is both precious and unruly, needing coercive measures but without causing serious financial harm, is resolved and meaningful press regulation is achievable.  In short: I argue that press freedom involves no duty relating to democratic participation and is no more than an obligation to make good (on the unwarranted harm it causes), not do good.

Relatedly, I am in receipt of major AHRC funding for an interdisciplinary project relating to the nature and extent of press freedom in the UK and continental Europe (AH/R00644X/1).  This is a two-year project.

My research is impactful.  As a code committee member at IMPRESS, I wrote, with others, the regulatory code provisions which govern the relationship between members, their audience, and those that they write about.  I was also responsible for the guidance which accompanies the code.  This is used by the public and by the press when complaints are made or contemplated.

I sit on the Board of Editors at Communications Law (Bloomsbury Press) having been Editor-in-Chief between 2016 and 2019.  I have been an Associate Fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple since 2015 (and previously an Academic Fellow, 2012-15).  I was convenor for the Media and Communications section of the Society of Legal Scholars (2014-2017).

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Law
  • LLB (Dunelm)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the HEA
  • Society of Legal Studies
  • Member of the Inner Temple

Student education

I have taught law, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, since 2000 on subjects as varied as Trusts & Equity, Contract Law, Public Law and Employment Law.  I have taught Contract Law at Leeds since I joined in 2009 and on the Media Freedom and Media Law course since 2010 and 2011 respectively.  I also teach on the dissertation course at both UG and PG level.

Key Publications

Books (monographs)

P Wragg, A Free and Regulated Press (Oxford: Hart, 2020)

Books (edited collections)

A. Koltay and P. Wragg, eds., Research Handbook on Comparative Privacy and Defamation Law (Edward Elgar, 2020).

Journal Articles

P. Wragg, ‘Recognising a privacy-invasion tort: the conceptual unity of informational and intrusion claims’ (2019) 78(2) Cambridge Law Journal 409-437.

P. Wragg and TDC Bennett, ‘Was Richard v BBC correctly decided?’ (2018) 23(3) Communications Law 151

P. Wragg, ‘Caught in web: capturing the zeitgeist of ‘Big Tech’ companies, social media speech and privacy’ (2018) 69(4) NILQ 397

P. Wragg, ‘Open Justice and Privacy’ (2017) 22(3) Communications Law 90

P. Wragg, ‘Privacy and the Emergent Intrusion Doctrine’ (2017) 9(1) Journal of Media Law 14

P. Wragg, ‘Protecting Private Information of Public Interest: Campbell's Great Promise, Unfulfilled’ (2016) 7(2) Journal of Media Law 225

P. Wragg, ‘The Legitimacy of Press Regulation’ (2015) Public Law, Apr, 290

P. Wragg, ‘Free Speech Rights at Work: Resolving the Differences between Practice and Liberal Principle’ (2015) 44(1) Industrial Law Journal 1

P. Wragg, ‘Enhancing Press Freedom through Greater Privacy Law: A UK Perspective on an Australian Privacy Tort’ (2014) 36(4) Sydney Law Review 619

P. Wragg, ‘Leveson’s Vision for Press Reform: One Year On’ (2014) 19(1) Communications Law 6

P. Wragg, ‘Leveson and Disproportionate Public Interest Reporting’ (2013) 5(2) Journal of Media Law 241

P. Wragg, ‘The Benefits of Privacy-Invading Expression’ (2013) 64(2) Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly 187

P. Wragg, ‘Mill’s Dead Dogma: the Value of Truth to Free Speech Jurisprudence’ (2013) Public Law, Apr, 363

P. Wragg, ‘Time to End the Tyranny: Leveson and the Failure of the Fourth Estate’ (2013) 18(1) Communications Law (Bloomsbury Professional) 12

P. Wragg, ‘Fickle Justice: Judicial Idiosyncrasy in UK Privacy Cases’ (2011) 10(2) Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal 139

P. Wragg, ‘A Freedom to Criticise? Evaluating the Public Interest in Celebrity Gossip after Mosley and Terry’ (2010) 2(2) Journal of Media Law (Hart Publishing) 295

P. Wragg, ‘Free Speech is Not Valued if Only Valued Speech is Free: Connolly, Consistency and Some Article 10 Concerns’ (2009) 15(1) European Public Law (Kluwer Law International) 111

Book Chapters

P. Wragg, ‘Separated by a Common Language: The Anti-Paternalism Principle in US and English Defamation and Privacy Law’ in András Koltay and Paul Wragg, eds., Research Handbook on Comparative Privacy and Defamation Law (Edward Elgar, 2020)

P. Wragg, ‘Campbell v Spottiswoode (1863)’ in David Rolph, ed, Landmark Decisions in Defamation Law (Hart Publishing, 2019)

P. Wragg, ‘Human Rights Reasoning and the Contract Law Scholar’ in David Campbell and Warren Swain, Reimaging Contract Law Pedagogy (Routledge, 2019)

P. Wragg, ‘The Limits of Press Accountability’ in Russell L Weaver, Andras Koltay, Mark D Cole and Steven I Friedland, Free Speech and Media Law in the 21st Century (Carolina Academic Press, 2019)

P. Wragg and R. Barnes, ‘Social Media, Sporting Figures and the Regulation of Morality’ in David Mangan and Lorna Gillies, eds, The Legal Challenges of Social Media (Edward Elgar, 2017)

P. Wragg, ‘Advertising, Free Speech and the Consumer’ in James Devenney and Mel Kenny, eds., European Consumer Protection: Theory & Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2012), 313


P. Wragg, ‘Tackling online harms: what good is regulation?’ (2019) 24(2) Communications Law 49

P. Wragg, ‘Parliamentary Privilege and the Rule of Law’ (2018) 23(4) Communications Law 175

P. Wragg, ‘The duty to hack, steal and betray confidences? Press freedom and the "Paradise Papers" affair’ (2018) 23(3) Communications Law 109

P. Wragg, ‘Silencing the president: the free speech implications of censoring hateful political online speech’ (2018) 23(2) Communications Law 55

P. Wragg and N. NiLoideain, ‘Children and digital rights’ (2018) 23(1) Communications Law 1

P. Wragg, ‘Pulling at the curtain: social media and jury trials' (2017) 22(4) Communications Law 107

P. Wragg, ‘Fake News and Press Freedom’ (2017) 22(3) Communications Law 72

P. Wragg, ‘Goodbye to all that: Section 40 Crime & Courts Act, Leveson Part 2 and a Reformed Press’ (2017) 22(2) Communications Law 34

P. Wragg, ‘Don’t believe what you read: section 40 will protect the local press, not kill it’ The Conversation, January 13, 2017

P. Wragg and J. Townend, ‘Information Control in an Ominous Global Environment’ (2017) 22(1) Communications Law 1

P. Wragg, ‘The Martyrdom of Press Freedom: What Recognition of IMPRESS Means and Why the Press Fears It’ (2016) 21(4) Communications Law 98

P. Wragg, ‘For All We Know: Freedom of Speech, Radicalisation and the Prevent Duty’ 21(3) Communications Law 60

P. Wragg, ‘The Value of a Privacy Injunction When ‘Everybody Knows’’ (2016) 21(2) Communications Law 25

P. Wragg, ‘No Employer Right to Snoop but What of Employee Rights at Work?’ (2016) 21(1) Communications Law 1


P. Wragg, ‘Mail on Sunday’s Meghan Markle Defence: A Study in Poverty, Parts 1 & 2’, 22 and 23 January 2020, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘The Times, IPSO and the Mystery of the Systematic Breaches Sanction’, 19 July 2019, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘Lord Hain and Privilege: When power, wealth and abuse combine to subvert the rule of law’, 27 October 2018, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘Why Sir Cliff Richard’s case was wrongly decided’, 22 July 2018, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘The Duty to Hack, Steal and Betray Confidences? Press Freedom and the ‘Paradise Papers’ affair’, 27 March 2018, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘Silencing the President: the Free Speech implications of censoring hateful political speech online’, 17 March 2018, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘Pulling at the Curtain: Social Media and Jury Trials’, 17 November 2017, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘Distinguishing harm from misuse in privacy law: Khuja v Times Newspapers’, 22 July 2017, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘The Martyrdom of Press Freedom: What Recognition of IMPRESS means and why the press fears it’, 13 November 2016, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘For all we know: Freedom of Speech, Radicalisation and the Prevent Duty’, 22 August 2016, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘The Farce is With You: When Newspapers Confuse Privacy with Confidentiality’, 16 April 2016, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘No Employer Right to Snoop But What of Employee Rights at Work?’, 5 February 2016, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘A Christmas Wish for Privacy Law Developments in 2016’, 18 December 2015, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘What becomes of Misuse of Private Information, the orphaned child?’ 26 May 2015, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘Re-evaluating Campbell v MGN: Great Promise Unfulfilled’, 28 April 2015, Gazette of Law and Journalism (Australia)

P. Wragg, ‘Australia: an opportunity missed to enhance press freedom’, 7 October 2014, Gazette of Law and Journalism (Australia)

P. Wragg, ‘David Cameron's Very Own Moment of Press Intrusion, or Why It Pays to Listen to Advice about Dangerous Dogs’, 2 September 2013, Inforrm

P. Wragg, ‘Leveson’s regulator and the goal of protecting ‘real harm caused to real people’: A likely story?’, 19 April 2013, Inforrm


Co-author, Fenwick on Civil Liberties and Human Rights (Routledge, 2016, 5th edn)

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Business Law and Practice

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>