About us

Our background

Dr Kath Murray is a Research Fellow in Criminology at the University of Edinburgh. She completed her Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded PhD in 2014, looking at the disproportionate use of stop and search on young people in Scotland. Her research in this area led to major legal and policy reform in Scotland, for which she received an ESRC Outstanding Early Career Impact prize. Since then she has published extensively (academic articles, book chapters and reports) and worked on a range of research projects and commissions. These include an evaluation of the Whole Systems Approach to youth offending, a study on public confidence in Scottish policing, and a comparative study of children’s experiences of offending, victimisation and policing. She has also worked on the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey, and undertaken influential research on the proposed integration of the British Transport Police into Police Scotland, for which was shortlisted for the Herald Higher Education Awards. 

Lucy Hunter Blackburn is a former senior civil servant in the Scottish Government. Her roles included Head of Higher Education Division, Head of Reducing Reoffending Division and Director of Policy at Historic Scotland. She previously worked on local government finance and the legislation establishing the Scottish Parliament. She began her career working on education policy for the Association of County Councils. Lucy is coming to the end of an ESRC-funded PhD at the University of Edinburgh looking at student finance. She has published and been quoted extensively on student funding and higher education policy, including appearances on BBC Radio 4’s More or Less. She has contributed to projects for the Sutton Trust and the ESRC and her work has been cited in official inquiries. In 2017, she was awarded Wonkhe’s Wonk of the Year and she has been a judge for the Guardian University Awards for the past three years. She has a degree in Modern History, an MA in Political Philosophy and an MSc (with distinction) in Educational Research..

Lisa Mackenzie is a former civil servant in the UK Government where she worked as a government communications specialist in a number of Whitehall departments, including the Department for Social Security and Home Office, as well as the Commission for Racial Equality. She was seconded to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food during the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After returning to Scotland, she worked as a freelance researcher for the Scottish Parliament’s Futures Forum. She was policy and public affairs adviser to penal reform campaign group Howard League Scotland for five years. More recently she worked for the Royal College of Nursing. She has a degree in Modern Chinese and an MSc in Policy Studies.

Our research impact

Over the past 18 months, we have researched and written about women’s sex-based rights and gender self-identification across different areas of public policy in the UK. Within this short period, we have established a strong record of research impact:

  • We have consistently called for greater consideration of the impact of proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004 on women’s sex-based rights. The need to address these concerns was acknowledged by the Cabinet Secretary when she announced the Scottish Government’s plans for GRA reform in June 2019, and in the consultation on the Government’s draft Gender Recognition Reform Bill in December 2019. 
  • Our call for an inquiry into how official data on sex and gender identity is recorded is now being taken forward by the Scottish Government.  
  • Our work on proposals for the 2021 UK census and related research has been cited in the Scottish Parliament and informed parliamentary questions and debate. 
  • We have submitted evidence to the UK Parliament select committees, and other UK-wide consultations. 
  • We have commented extensively on women’s sex-based rights and gender self-identification policies in the media, including TV and radio interviews, and articles in the national and specialist press. 
  • We have published two peer-reviewed papers in academic journals. Our paper on the unregulated adoption of gender self-identification principles as a case study of policy capture in the August 2019 edition of Scottish Affairs was downloaded 8,123 times within three months of its publication. More recently, we published a paper which reviewed the introduction of self-declaration laws in other European jurisdictions in the May 2020 edition of the Edinburgh Law Review.



If policy is to be based on evidence, then the evidence has to be as independent of ideological points of view as is possible. MBM Scottish policy analysis has an admirable record of trying to achieve that.”
Lindsay Paterson, Professor of Education Policy, University of Edinburgh.

9 September 2019

This is such important work. Rigorous, detailed, evidence-based analysis is desperately needed as an antidote to toxic shouting-down and vacuous sloganeering on Twitter. The hardline shouters-down will shut their ears, of course, but many other people
(including those in public office) will find it increasingly hard to ignore the reality that this project will reveal.”
Francis Wheen, Journalist, writer and broadcaster. 9 September 2019

Vital research to cut through the myths and establish the facts.”
Simon Fanshawe, Writer, broadcaster and co-founder of Stonewall. 12 September 2019

Writing in the journal Scottish Affairs, Dr Kath Murray and Lucy Hunter Blackburn of Edinburgh University show that Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP government has, without serious debate or scrutiny, adopted a policy whereby people who declare themselves women while retaining the male genitals they were born with are able to enter spaces that were previously reserved for women in prisons, hospitals and, shockingly, rape crisis centres and refuges. This could undermine protections set out in the 2010 Equality Act.” 
Trevor Phillips, Writer, broadcaster and former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. 30 August 2019

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