Thursday 10 Oct 2013Probability and the Law

Professor Norman Fenton - Queen Mary University of London

Laver LT6 15:00-16:00

The appropriate use of probability and statistics in the law is a topic of great importance, especially as increasingly forensic evidence has a major statistical component. Yet, such evidence has often been so poorly presented or misunderstood that it has led to major miscarriages of justice. Bayesian probabilistic reasoning, including the use of causal models (Bayesian networks) has the potential to dramatically improve the way such evidence is analysed and presented; indeed these techniques have the potential to improve the efficiency and quality of the entire criminal justice system. But in practice Bayes’ has been largely ignored, misunderstood and even ridiculed in court. This has resulted in fundamental misunderstandings and fallacies of probabilistic reasoning throughout the legal profession.
In this talk I will review the problems and challenges involved in the use of probability and Bayes within legal arguments, and will describe applications of Bayes and Bayesian networks to several high profile cases (such as Sally Clark, Stephen Lawrence, Levi Bellfield and Barry
George) some of which I have been involved with personally. In the case of Barry George I will present brand new results that cast doubts on the reasoning in the 2007 Appeal Court judgement that led to the quashing of Barry George's conviction for the murder of TV celebrity Jill Dando.
More details:

Add to calendar

Add to calendar (.ics)