Penny is an expert on witness evidence and procedures for fair hearings when a witness or party is vulnerable. Penny’s work has led to the international development of innovative practices and training in this area.

Penny’s work has been cited and relied on in the following court judgments:

R v Christian [2015] EWCA Crim 1582 [para 34];
R v RL [2015] EWCA Crim 1215 [paras 7 & 10];
R v Lubemba [2014] EWCA Crim 2064 [para 40];
R (On the Application Of OP) v Secretary of State for Justice [2014] EWHC 1944 (Admin) [para 5]; and
Re X (A Child) [2011] EWHC 3401 (Fam) [para 13].


Penny was called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in London in 1990. In 2002 Penny became a Director at City Law School, City, University of London and a professor of law in 2009; she was an Associate Dean at the law school until 2012. Penny is now an Honorary Professor at City Law School and a Visiting Professor at the University of Roehampton. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Criminal Policy Research (Birkbeck, University of London) leading the Vulnerability in Courts project funded by the Nuffield Foundation. For a number of years Penny was a Governor and Director at the Expert Witness Institute and editor of its newsletter. She is the co-founder and chair of the ground-breaking website ‘The Advocate’s Gateway’ at the Inns of Court College of Advocacy.

Since 2003 Penny has led the development of training and national guidance for Registered Intermediaries in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and New South Wales, Australia. She regularly delivers training to judges and practitioners around the world on the use of intermediaries and other special measures for vulnerable witnesses and parties. In 2016 in Sydney, at the request of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Penny gave expert evidence about the witness intermediary model which she created and about the effective participation of vulnerable witnesses.

IMG_5184Penny created and researches ‘the ground rules approach’ for witness evidence. Her research led to changes in court practice and most recently to a new Criminal Procedure Rule (CPR 3.9(7)) on ground rules. She frequently advises City law firms, multinationals and leading counsel on witness familiarisation procedures, cross-examination and case management.

She has a particular interest and practical expertise in cases where a witness or party is vulnerable including those affected by an autism spectrum condition/ Asperger Syndrome.


Committee memberships include the President of the Family Division’s Vulnerable Witness Working Group, the Ministry of Justice Advisory Group on pre-recorded cross-examination, the Training and Accreditation Committee of The Advocacy Training Council and Mr Justice Newton’s committee devising vulnerable witness training for all family court advocates.

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