Keynote Speaker: Sir Stephen Irwin QC

Sir Stephen Irwin QC (Mr Justice Irwin) is a High Court judge. He will speak about globalisation, the changing nature of states and of the terrorist threat, and how to maintain the rule of law under such changes. Q&A Twitter session will follow. 


Biographical note

Sir Stephen Irwin was born in 1953 and educated at Methodist College, Belfast followed by an open scholarship to study English and Law at Jesus College, Cambridge graduating in 1975. He was called to the Bar (Gray’s Inn) in 1976 and was appointed a QC in 1997.

He became Vice Chairman in 2003 and subsequently Chairman of the Bar Council in 2004. He led an international delegation of Bar Chairmen to Zimbabwe in 2004, writing a report on the distortion of their legal system, which was subsequently adopted by the International Bar Association and became current within the UN.

Sir Stephen was sworn in as a High Court judge in 2006 and was a Presiding Judge on the Northern circuit from 2007 to 2012. In January 2013 he became the Chairman of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). SIAC deals with appeals against decisions made by the Home Office to deport, or exclude, someone from the UK on national security grounds, or for other public interest reasons. It also hears appeals against decisions to deprive persons of citizenship status.

Sir Stephen chaired the Fees and Legal Aid Committee in the Bar Council from 1999 to 2002, and served for 5 years as a trustee of the Access to Justice Foundation, which is the lead organisation supporting pro bono work by lawyers in England and Wales.

In addition he is currently the Chair of the Poetry Society, the premier organisation for poetry and poets in the UK.