Keir Monteith KC holds inaugural lecture at University of Manchester as Honorary Senior Lecturer

Friday 3 May 2024

Keir Monteith KC is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Manchester within the School of Social Sciences.

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Keir Monteith KC held his inaugural lecture: 'Art Not Evidence: The misuse of rap in criminal trials' for the Law School at the University of Manchester on Wednesday 1 May 2024. In the lecture, he reviewed the increased criminalisation of rap music, including the use of lyrics and music videos as evidence against young people accused of serious crimes.

Keir is frequently instructed in trials and appeals where rap evidence is prejudicially used. He is a founding member of Art Not Evidence campaign, launched at the end of 2023, to advocate for a restriction on the use of creative expression as evidence in criminal trials. The campaign addresses the criminalisation of rap music, including the increasing use of lyrics and music videos as evidence against young people accused of crime.

Attendees included members of the charity JUSTICE, award-winning Guardian journalist David Conn, high-profile lawyers Liam Kotrie & Cecilia Goodwin, Elli Brazzil, founder of Art Not Evidence, and Baroness Shami Chakrabarti. Lucy Powell MP wrote a letter of support (below), which was read out at the event:

‘In my 12 years as an MP representing Manchester Central, I have campaigned to highlight the injustices I have seen in the criminal justice system. I have seen too many examples where culture, neighbourhood, class, and ethnicity have been used to build a case for prosecution. It is not uncommon for the music people listen to and the clothes they wear to be used to build a “gang narrative”, which is more likely to lead to conviction and to longer sentencing; even where there is very little direct evidence of defendants taking part in criminal activity. The criminal justice system has disproportionate negative outcomes for young black boys and the use of music to build a conviction plays a substantial role in that disproportionality.

I am working closely to support families who have seen their children’s dreams crushed and whose offences have been “proven” by their associations and their interests, which significantly impacts on how cases play out in the investigation stage and through the court process. I am committed to lobbying for change along with my Labour colleagues, including David Lammy, who has campaigned on this for many years, and we are raising these issues with Police forces, the CPS and Government ministers. Lucy would encourage all of those who are interested to sign up for this important lecture and support the Art Not Evidence campaign.’


Keir also sits as a Recorder [part-time Crown Court judge], and is a training tutor for the Judicial College. In July 2021, Keir became a Simon Fellow at the University of Manchester to work on research founded on a deep understanding of racism as both structural and interpersonal and projects on installing fairer treatment in the justice system. He was made an Honorary Senior Lecturer in 2024.

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