Centre for Forensic Linguistics celebrates 5th anniversary

CFL anniversary

19 November 2013

Aston University’s world-leading Centre for Forensic Linguistics (CFL) celebrated its fifth anniversary with a special one-day conference on Current Trends in Forensic Linguistics. 

The conference, part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Science 2013, featured CFL lecturers and special guest experts giving speeches on a variety of topics throughout the day. 

Among many other speakers, Lord Justice John Goldring, one of the premier judges in the UK, delivered a well-received talk on contemporary Forensic Language issues and Det Supt Andy Griffiths spoke about improving Police interviews with the aid of linguistic contributions.  

CFL director, Dr Tim Grant, closed the conference, which took place on November 8, by discussing his vision of the future for Forensic Linguistics and the CFL. 

Speaking at the conference, Dr Grant said: “We are very proud to be celebrating our fifth anniversary today. It’s a great achievement and I’m pleased we were able to enjoy it with such distinguished company. 

“When I joined Aston University in 2007, Forensic Linguistics was a relatively young discipline. Shortly before I arrived, Malcolm Coulthard had been appointed the world’s first Professor of Forensic Linguistics by the University and had in mind a project to build the CFL.   

When the CFL was established in 2008 it was the first of its type in the world. Five years on, it is still the largest grouping of forensic linguists anywhere in the world

“We have seen seven PhD graduates from 2008 and we have delivered a range of programmes and courses for undergraduates, postgraduates and law enforcement and legal  professionals.” 

The CFL team have also provided evidence and investigative reports in more than 500 criminal and civil court cases in the UK and further abroad. 

Recently, Dr Grant and his colleague, Dr Jack Grieve, examined the emails of Jamie and Debbie Starbuck. Jamie Starbuck claimed the couple were on a round the world trip but was suspected of having murdered his wife and sending emails home in her name. Dr Grant and Dr Grieve analysed the emails and identified a date on which emails from Debbie’s account shifted to be consistent with Jamie Starbuck’s written style. He was convicted of Debbie’s murder.  

Dr Grant explained: “The triangle of research, teaching and case work, each reinforcing the other, is the principal strength of CFL. As we look to the future we hope to build on their strength and continue to exploit our expertise to contribute to the delivery of justice.”


For further media information, please contact Jonathan Garbett, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4552 or j.garbett@aston.ac.uk