Clive Stafford Smith JD OBE

Professor Clive Stafford Smith JD OBE

  • Gresham Professor of Law (2024 -)

Clive Stafford Smith JD OBE is a dual UK-US national, the founder and director of  the Justice League a non-profit human rights training centre focused on fostering the next generation of advocates. 

He was the Senior Prefect at Radley College, where he studied maths and science; then a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), where he took a degree in Politics; and a Stone Merit Scholar each of his three years at Columbia Law School, graduating in 1984. 

He previously founded and directed the legal action charities Louisiana Capital Assistance Center (1993 in New Orleans) and Reprieve (1999 in London). Since 1984 he has tried many capital cases, and helped to represent over 400 people facing execution in the US and elsewhere. He also brought the first challenge to Guantánamo Bay, where he has secured the release of 85 detainees, and continues to assist the remaining 30.  In all five of the cases he has helped bring to the U.S. Supreme Court the petitioner has prevailed. 

He has recently taken on the case of Aafia Siddiqui, the woman who has most suffered from the US rendition-to-torture program – abducted with her three children. He continues to work on capital cases in the US, including a Post-Mortem Project where he is investigating the claims of innocence of 184 people executed since 1977.

Clive has published a number of books including Bad Men (2008, describing work in Guantánamo) and Injustice (2012, on the capital case of Kris Maharaj), both of which were short-listed for the Orwell Prize; and most recently The Far Side of the Moon (2023), deconstructing the parallel lives of his father and a client Larry Lonchar, both of whom were labelled Bipolar. He has many other publications, including manuals for the defence of capital cases, and law review articles about aspects of capital defence. He has worked on many films and documentaries, starting with Fourteen Days In May (1987), recently ranked as one of the top BBC documentaries of all time. 

While continuing his litigation practice, Clive teaches part time at Bristol Law School and Goldsmiths as well as running a summer programme for 35 students in Dorset, his home. He has received all kinds of awards in recognition of his work, including an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to humanity” in 2000. He has been a member of the Louisiana State Bar since 1984. 

Past Law Professors

Henry Mowtlowe (1596)
Clement Corbet (1607)
Thomas Eden (1613)
Benjamin Thorneton (1640)
Joshua Crosse (1644)
Thomas Leonard (1649)
John Bond (1649/50)
Benjamin Thorneton (1660)
Richard Pearson (1667)
John Clarke (1670)
Roger Meredith (1672/73)
Robert Briggs (1686/87)
John Cumyng (1719)
William Mace (1744)
Joseph Jeffries (1767)
T Taylor (1784)
William Jocelyn Palmer (1808)
William Palmer (1836)
John Thomas Abdy (1858)
George Holmes Blakesley (1896)
William Blake Odgers (1907)
Geoffrey Walter Wrangham (1925)
William Arthian Davies (1934)
Eric Sachs (1946)
Richard O'Sullivan (1950)
Richard Jon Harvey (1962)
R F V Heuston (1965)
P R Glazebrook (1971)
Clive M Schmitthoff (1976)
Kenneth R Simmonds (1988)
David Calcutt (1992)
Simon Lee (1995)
Gerald Wakefield (1998)
Richard Susskind (2000)
Vernon Bogdanor (2004)
Baroness Deech of Cumnor DBE (2008)
Geoffrey Nice (2012)
Jo Delahunty (2016)
Leslie Thomas (2020)

Find out more about our Professors in Our History section.