Public standards, ethics and entrapment

9:00am - 4:30pm / Thursday 19th May 2016 / Venue: Foresight Centre (Block J)
Type: Conference / Category: Research
  • 0151 795 3849
  • Suitable for: Academics from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, especially from Communication and Media, History, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology. Professional broadcasters, lawyers, politicians, print journalists. Academics from other universities.
  • Admission: Free, but registration is necessary. To register, contact the organiser.
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What ethically acceptable measures can be used to monitor, promote and enforce ethical standards in public life: in particular, does any kind of entrapment have an ethically permissible role to play? This is the focus of this interdisciplinary conference, featuring invited speakers from academia, law, and the media and University of Liverpool speakers from Communication and Media, Law, Philosophy, Politics, and Sociology and Social Policy.

Confirmed invited speakers:

Charlotte Harris, Partner, Kingsley Napley LLP, is a media lawyer who has acted in relation to several high-profile cases involving issues of privacy, defamation and harassment. She has appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Joint Select Committee on Privacy and Injunctions and gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.

Eamonn O'Neill, Associate Professor of Journalism, Edinburgh Napier University, is an experienced investigative journalist and former Programme Director of the University of Strathclyde’s MSc in Investigative Journalism. He is the author of Contemporary Investigative Journalism (Routledge, 2016). He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and has acted as an adviser to parliamentary committees.

Mark Philp, Professor of History, University of Warwick, is the author of Political Conduct (Harvard, 2007) and ‘Public Ethics and Political Judgement’ (Committee on Standards in Public Life, 2014). He is Chair of the Research Advisory Board to the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

Tom Porter, Channel 4, is a Commissioning Editor for News & Current Affairs at Channel 4. His commissions for the TV series ‘Dispatches’ include ‘How to Buy a Meeting with a Minister’ and ‘Politicians for Hire'.

Questions that may be discussed include:

- How should entrapment be defined?
- Is entrapment ever ethically permissible?
- If entrapment has an ethically acceptable role to play in monitoring, promoting and enforcing ethical standards in public life, what limits ought to be placed upon it?
- If information has been obtained via unethical entrapment, can it ever be permissible to act on that information?
- If entrapment has no ethically acceptable role to play, how could this itself be embodied in publicly agreed ethical standards and, given their lack of specificity to one profession, how might such standards be negotiated or drawn-up?
- How, if at all, are the ethics of legal entrapment (i.e., entrapment by legal authorities) related to the ethics of journalistic entrapment? For example, do any constraints on legal entrapment extend to journalistic entrapment?
- Under what conditions, if any, should evidence gained via entrapment be considered legally admissible? How, if at all, do these conditions relate to the ethics of extra-legal entrapment?
- Whether or not entrapment is permissible, what ethically acceptable measures could ethically be used to monitor, promote and enforce ethical standards in public life?
- How serious and widespread is the problem of ethical malpractice in British public life likely to be, especially malpractice that might not easily be detectable without resort to entrapment?
- How do the present constitutional rules in the UK regulate public standards of behaviour? Is the absence of a codified constitution a contributory factor to corruption in British politics? Should the constitution – whether reformed and codified or otherwise – require politicians to sign away any rights not to be ‘ethically tested’?