Category Archives: Forensic

Zoom trials and kitten lawyers

ON 18 May 2020, Judge Emily Miskel heard a run-of-the-mill case concerning a disputed insurance payout for wind and hail damage to a building. Normally she would have expected little public interest, but that day around 1,200 people observed deliberations in Collin County, Texas – not from inside the courtroom, which was closed by the pandemic, but via YouTube. The case had been billed as the world’s first virtual jury trial, with all participants communicating via Zoom…

This article first appeared in New Statesman on 19 February 2022. To continue reading, click here:


The first urbanites

AROUND 6200 years ago, farmers living on the eastern fringes of Europe, in what is now Ukraine, did something inexplicable. They left their neolithic villages and moved into a sparsely inhabited area of forest and steppe. There, in an area roughly the size of Belgium between the modern cities of Kiev and Odessa, they congregated at new settlements up to 20 times the size of their old ones…

This article first appeared in New Scientist on 27 February 2021. To continue reading, click here (paywall).

The great opportunity: how Covid transformed global crime

BY the end of March, one week into the UK’s first lockdown, recorded crime in Lancashire had dropped by a startling 40% compared with the four-year average. “At first there was some mild panic,” says DCI Eric Halford, of Lancashire Constabulary. “Most senior officers expected a surge in demand…”

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 27 December 2020. To continue reading, click here.

The strange case of the mutilated horses

THE animals have been found missing ears and genitals, with eyes torn out, or deep, clean cuts to their bodies. The recent spate of horse mutilations reported across France has provoked horror and outrage. Satanic cults have been mooted, or individual perpetrators engaged in copycat crimes. But what if the panic reveals more about our collective state of mind in 2020 than any new and twisted form of human behaviour…?

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 23 September 2020. To continue reading, click here.