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Stephen Skinner presents research paper on subversion at Glasgow University

This year’s Gerald Gordon Seminar on Criminal Law was held at the University of Glasgow on 9 June 2022. Stephen Skinner presented a paper entitled ‘For My Enemies the Law: Subversion, Crime and Security in Comparative Perspective’, which built on his long-running research project on law, State power and political ideology in non-democratic and democratic systems during and after the interwar period. The paper outlined the concept of subversion and discussed how it has been used both in criminal law and to justify the activities of surveillance agencies in the name of national security. Focusing on the political crime of organizing or directing a subversive association under Article 270 of the 1930 Italian Penal Code, the paper discussed the Fascist origins of this offence and how it was maintained in post-Fascist Italy, including in a revised form after 2006. The paper then compared the meanings of subversion and the approach to criminalization in the Italian provision with various examples from UK criminal law and national security law and policy. In conclusion, the paper discussed the significance of comparing political offences across different sorts of state system, how criminal law is used to define enemies of the state, and what these different approaches reveal about the status and role of law itself in differing contexts. The Gordon Seminar was attended by over sixty academics and other legal practitioners from around the UK.

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