Forensic Linguistics Institute

FORENSIC LINGUISTICS INSTITUTE

Founded 1994


 

Forensic Linguistics Tour

The linguistic structure of suspects' denials in police interviews is of key importance to forensic linguists. The below is an excerpt from an interview between a homicide detective and Dr Harold Shipman, later convicted of murdering 15 elderly patients, but thought by the Smith Inquiry to have killed many more. What is interesting here is that although this appears to be a denial it is not. It is simply a claim not to be able to remember. This is because when Shipman says 'the fact that I can't remember doing it', what he is actually saying is 'I am claiming that I can't remember doing it'. A claim is not a fact.

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