Published on 17/02/2022
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  • Professor Tim Grant, assisted by Dr Isobelle Clarke of Lancaster University, provided forensic authorship analysis to the investigation which resulted in Greek national, Nikolaos Karvounakis being sentenced to eight years and four months on 16 February.
  • Professor Grant had been working on the case for 40 months, initially providing investigative assistance, then evidence to support search warrants, and finally with Dr Clarke further evidence to be used at Karvounakis’ trial
  • Forensic evidence demonstrated a blog known as Paroxysm of Chaos was authored by Karvounakis, and the forensic linguistic analysis linked the Paroxysm of Chaos blog to a claim of responsibility for the bomb attack on the Maldicion Eco Extremista website.

Aston University forensic linguists have made a significant contribution to a Police Scotland terrorism case that resulted in a conviction in the High Court on 19 January.

Professor Tim Grant, director of Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL), was first approached in 2018 after a pipe bomb was discovered in Edinburgh’s Princess Street Gardens.  The bomber was linked to a series of anonymous online posts written principally in English and Spanish, and a claim for responsibility for planting the device was discovered on a Mexican website supportive of anarchist and eco-terrorist actions.

Professor Grant was initially asked to provide a sociolinguistic profile of the writings to determine the language background of the writer, in terms of the other languages which were influencing the English in the blog posts.

In 2020 he was asked to carry out a series of authorship analyses between known writings of the then suspect Nikolaos Karvounakis, and the anonymous blog posts. These analyses contributed to search warrants and arrest of Karvounakis.

In 2021 with Dr Isobelle Clarke of Lancaster University, a final analysis and evidential report was produced.  By this time Police Scotland had forensic evidence to link Karvounakis to a series of blogs including a long post called Paroxysm of Chaos.  Dr Clarke and Professor Grant carried out a comparative authorship analysis between this writing and the claim of responsibility, which had appeared on the Maldicion Eco Extremista website.

On 19 January, faced with the full range of evidence in the case, Karvounakis pleaded guilty to being in possession of items for a terrorist purpose at the High Court in Edinburgh.  He was sentenced on 16 February to eight years and four months.

Notes to Editors

About Professor Grant and Dr Clarke

Professor Tim Grant is Director of the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics. He is the author of many books, journal articles and research reports in forensic linguistics. He has provided investigative assistance and evidence in many police investigations, and he has given evidence in Court for defence and prosecution in criminal cases and also in civil cases and arbitration hearings.  In 2019 Professor Grant was awarded a Commendation from the National Crime Agency for his work helped that lead to the arrest of Matthew Falder. 

Dr Isobelle Clarke is a graduate of the MA in Forensic Linguistics from Aston, received her doctorate from University of Birmingham and is currently a Senior Research Associate and Leverhulme Trust’s Early Career Researcher Fellow in the Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Sciences at Lancaster University.  Her research covers forensic linguistics, including authorship analysis, corpus linguistics, sociolinguistics and discourse analysis and she has worked a number of criminal cases alongside Professor Grant.


About the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics

The mission of the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL) is to improve the delivery of justice through the analysis of language.  AIFL was founded in 2019. It is a substantial expansion of the former Aston Centre for Forensic Linguistics, which was founded in 2008. In the autumn of 2019 AIFL appointed a total of 15 new staff to establish the Institute. This expansion was funded via a £6M investment including a £5.4M award from Research England’s Expanding Excellence in England (E3) fund.


AIFL is one of four Aston University Research Institutes, studying forensic texts and contexts and producing academically rigorous, high impact research using insights and methods from diverse areas of linguistics to improve the delivery of justice.  Staff from AIFL also teach on the MA in Forensic Linguistics which is offered both on campus and online.


About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Saskia Hansen is the interim Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world.

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