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Dr Neil Graffin

Profile summary

Professional biography

Neil is Senior Lecturer in Law and Head of Department at The Open University (OU). He is also the Chair of the Sanctuary Advisory Network (SAN) at the OU.

Neil studied for a PhD in Law in Queen’s University Belfast, where he also completed both his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Neil has also worked as an Associate Lecturer with The Open University.

Research interests

Neil's research interests are within immigration law, asylum law, human rights, and wellbeing. 

Neil’s PhD research concerned assessing how human rights are upheld during the time individuals are held for police interviews. It evaluated the protections afforded by Articles 3 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights within this setting. This research was conducted under the supervision of Professor Brice Dickson and Professor Rory O’Connell. 

Neil is currently working on several projects in the field of immigration and asylum. Neil is currently the principal investigator in a British Academy/ Leverhulme funded project which looks at the legal consciousness of search and rescue volunteers who save the lives of people making dangerous crossings in the Mediterranean. He is also developing resources for immigration and asylum practitioners, and conducting further research on issues of racial profiling in immigration control. 

Teaching interests

Neil is an Associate Lecturer on W212 Contract Law. He has previously taught various courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Neil is currently supervising three PhD students. 

Impact and engagement

Neil is currently working on a project with the UK charity, LawCare, to develop online resources to promote psychologically healthy practices within the legal profession. Neil is also collaborating in research which looks at means of supporting the mental health of practitioners within the legal profession.

External collaborations

Neil has recently been academic consultant for the BBC production Parole

Neil is co-author of several executive education courses including:

  • Search and rescue of refugees at sea which aims to provide an introduction to the law of the sea as it relates to maritime search and rescue.
  • Fit for Law which is produced with LawCare and concerns emotional competence and professional resilience and is aimed at upskilling legal professionals to emotionally healthier ways of working. 
  • Becoming a Barrister which is a set of resources produced for The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple to provide careers advice to school age children and their parents to pathways to careers in the Bar. 


‘Survival of the fittest’? Perceptions of wellbeing at The Bar of Northern Ireland (2021-12-17)
Graffin, Neil and Jones, Emma
Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 72, Article 2(3)

Taking Clinical Legal Education Online: Songs of Innocence and Experience (2020-12-11)
McFaul, Hugh; Hardie, Liz; Ryan, Francine; Lloyd Bright, Keren and Graffin, Neil
International Journal of Clinical Legal Education, 27(4) (pp. 6-38)

Racial profiling in immigration control: the problem with the Northern Irish border (2019-11)
Graffin, Neil and Garcia Blesa, Juan J.
International Human Rights Law Review, 8(2) (pp. 245-273)

The emotional impacts of working as an asylum lawyer (2019-03-31)
Graffin, Neil
Refugee Survey Quarterly, 38(1) (pp. 30-54)

Protecting asylum practitioners from emotional strain and secondary trauma: education, support and reform (2019)
Graffin, Neil
European Journal of Current Legal Issues, 25, Article 652(2)

Gäfgen v Germany, the Use of Threats and the Punishment of Those Who Ill-treat During Police Questioning: A Reply to Steven Greer (2017)
Graffin, Neil
Human Rights Law Review, 17(4) (pp. 681-699)

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commissions Application: In the Matter of an Application for Judicial Review by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission In the Matter of the Law on the Termination of Pregnancy in Northern Ireland [2015] NIQB 96: High Court of Justice Northern Ireland (Queens Bench Division): Horner J: 30 November 2015 (2016-02)
Graffin, Neil
Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, 5(1) (pp. 168-182)

The legal consequences of ill-treating detainees held for police questioning in breach of Article 3 ECHR (2014)
Graffin, Neil
Web Journal of Current Legal Issues, 20(2)

Donaldson v United Kingdom: No right for prisoners to wear Easter lilies (2012)
Graffin, Neil
King's Law Journal, 23(1) (pp. 101-108)

Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Legal Profession (2020-09-24)
Jones, Emma; Graffin, Neil; Samra, Rajvinder and Lucassen, Mathijs
Bristol Shorts Research
ISBN : 9781529210743 | Publisher : Bristol University Press | Published : Bristol

‘Two versions of the American Dream’: Well-being and unhappiness in the law school and legal profession: The work of Lawrence Krieger and Kennon Sheldon (2024)
Graffin, Neil
In: Newman, Daniel ed. Leading Works on the Legal Profession (pp. 64-76)
ISBN : 9781003253778 | Publisher : Routledge

From the Greek Case to the Present: 50 Years of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (2020)
Graffin, Neil
In: Claydon, Lisa; Derry, Caroline and Ajevski, Marjan eds. Law in Motion: 50 years of Legal Change (pp. 52-66)
ISBN : 978-1-4730-3148-7 | Publisher : The Open University Law School

Suspending the Rule of Law for Racial Minorities in Border Management: Racial Profiling in the Western Mediterranean and the Post-Brexit Irish Border (2018-10-26)
Garcia Blesa, Juan J. and Graffin, Neil
In: August Prinz von Sachsen Gessaphe, Karl; Garcia Blesa, Juan J. and Szuka, Nils eds. Legal Implications of Brexit. Hagener Rechtswissenschaftliche Schriften (2) (pp. 195-214)
ISBN : 978-3-96163-149-0 | Publisher : MV-Wissenschaft | Published : Münster

Examining transitions to distance and online higher education with students from refugee backgrounds (2023-09)
Charitonos, K.; Gillespie, M.; Dancu, L.; O'Malley, O.; Al-Rashid, A.; Martin, S.; Wilding, C.; Graffin, N.; Mutwarasibo, F. and Babjak, M.
In : BERA 2023 Conference (12-14 Sep 2023, Birmingham, UK)

Researching transitions to distance higher education with students from refugee backgrounds: A case from the Sanctuary programme at the Open University (2023-11)
Charitonos, Koula; Gillespie, Marie; Graffin, Neil; Wilding, Colin; O'Malley, Olwyn; Al-Rashid, Ahmad; Martin, Shannon; Mutwarasibo, Fidèle; Babjak, Mahlea and Dancu, Lidia
The Open University