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OpenMinds: Open and Shut Cases – Professor Simon Lee’s Inaugural lecture

Updated Tuesday, 11th April 2017

Professor Simon Lee’s inaugural lecture comes at a time when many can be seen as having closed minds in the Brexit era and following the election of President Trump.

Royal Courts of Justice Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Thinkstock / Emre Yilmaz The Royal Courts of Justice, London Join us in the Berrill Theatre and online on Thursday 4 May, from 5.00-6.00pm for Professor Simon Lee’s inaugural lecture on Open and Shut Cases, which comes at a time when many can be seen as having closed minds in the Brexit era and following the election of President Trump.

Simon is Professor of Law at The Open University. His interest in human rights and contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland provides material for his inaugural lecture. He will begin by tracing diverse sagas where much of the media and the public mistakenly assume that a case is open and shut, looking back at his own immediate comments on the conviction of Winston Silcott in 1987 for the murder, while on bail for another murder charge, of PC Keith Blakelock, and applying some wise words of Sir Robert Megarry in a different matter: 

“As everybody who has anything to do with the law well knows, the path of the law is strewn with examples of open and shut cases which, somehow, were not; of unanswerable charges which, in the event, were completely answered; of inexplicable conduct which was fully explained; of fixed and unalterable determinations that, by discussion, suffered a change."

—Megarry J, John v Rees [1970] Ch 345, 402.

Simon will broaden out the discussion to address more recent examples from law, sport, literature and university life, from accusations of plagiarism and cheating to political U-turns, right up to the recent attack on Westminster, asking what possessed Channel 4 News, perceived to be an archetypal proponent of political correctness and opponent of ‘fake news’, to name the wrong person as the attacker.

He will look at the latest research from the USA on whether judges, lawyers, law students and the general public think differently and he will question how we can encourage students and the wider public to be open-minded.

Finally, he will reflect on Allan Bloom’s challenging book, The Closing of the American Mind from 1987 and the battle-cries of ‘post-truth’ and ‘fake news’ in 2017. He will conclude by encouraging open-mindedness in the decades to come.

We very much hope you will be able to attend what promises to be an inspiring event – the fourth in the Open University’s 2017 ‘OpenMinds’ series of public engagement events.

Event programme

  • 16:30 Refreshments available (arrive early and enjoy our pre-event display and trailer video)
  • 17:00 Opening
  • 17:05 Talk commences
  • 17:45 Q&A session
  • 17:55 Close
  • 18:00 Drinks reception and networking opportunity
  • 19:30 Departure

How to attend

Attend the event in person 
If you're attending the event in person there will be networking, discussion opportunities and refreshments after the event.

Can't join in person? Watch the event live online
You can watch a live stream of the event as it happens—see below. If you're watching online, please do take the opportunity to have your questions answered by our speakers live during the event by posting in the comments section further down this page.

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