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Fitz student wins debate prize

Congratulations to Conor Monighan, 3rd year English student, who won the £3000 first prize in The Times/Kingsley Napley Student Advocacy Competition on 19 September.

The topic was "Is it time to give anonymity to defendants accused of rape and other sexual crimes?”


As reported in The Times, Conor argued that there was a fundamental problem about the current regime. “Anyone accused of a sexual crime can be named,” he said, “and yet only 20 per cent then go on to be charged.” Can this be right, he asked, given that so few are then committed to the courts? Instead, he argued, suspects in sex crime cases should retain their anonymity until charges were brought. “It would be wrong to ignore the suffering of those publicly named as being accused.” Moreover, by exposing suspects to the “court of public opinion” long before going to a court of law, it infringed the principle that people were presumed innocent until proved guilty.

The competition, sponsored by Kingsley Napley this year, was tough, with 77 entrants. All University law departments had been notified of the competition.To qualify, entrants had submitted a 90-second clip of themselves speaking on the topic, supported by an 800-word essay. 

Kingsley Napley lawyers assessed all the entries, and selected the top four, who argued their case in front of an audience of over 100. The Judging panel was: Stephen Parkinson – Criminal Practice Area Leader (Kingsley Napley), Frances Gibb – Legal Editor (The Times), The Right Honourable Lady Justice Rafferty – (Court of Appeal judge  and Head of Judicial College), and Alexander Cameron QC – Head of Chambers  (Three Raymond Buildings). Conor received his prize from The Right Honourable Lady Justice Rafferty (pictured). 



Conor Monighan presenting his case.

Conor Monighan said: “I was delighted to win the competition, particularly given the quality of the other candidates. It gave me a unique insight into the law, which offers a fantastic opportunity to combine my thirst for intellectual challenges with my enjoyment of public speaking.”

Coming in equal second place were Tommy Dominguez of the University of East Anglia and Tom Warden from the University of Law in London -- each taking home £1500 and Claire Carroll from the University of Limerick, Ireland came third, taking home £500.

Conor plans to take the law conversion course (GDL) next year, and will begin applying for pupillage with barrister’s chambers. “I've already undertaken three work placements (mini-pupillages), but I’m looking to complete more in order to explore different areas of law.”

He was on the founding committee of Fitz Debating, and co-President last year. “We've had a number of debates, but highlights include a debate on austerity with Sir Vince Cable, cuts to the Arts Council budget with Sir Peter Bazalgette and reforms to the prison system with Nicky Padfield.”

Kingsley Napley is an internationally recognised law firm based in central London. Its Criminal team comprises the leading criminal defence solicitors in the UK, representing individuals accused of  general crime, serious fraud, financial services investigations, offences under the Bribery Act, money laundering, internal and corporate investigations and health and safety investigations.

Read more about studying Law at Fitzwilliam College >>

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