A fortnight after being sworn in as lord chief justice, Sir Ian Burnett has delegated criminal justice from his workload, appointing Sir Brian Leveson to become head of criminal justice - a post occupied only once before.
Leveson, who will remain president of the Queen's Bench Division, is expected to play a 'leading role' in relation to criminal justice delivery in England and Wales and will be 'interested' in policy issues, the judiciary said today.
The position was created under section 8 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. It can be held by the lord chief justice or a Court of Appeal judge. However, the lord chief justice must consult with the lord chancellor before making an appointment.
The post was last occupied by Sir Igor Judge when he was president of the Queen's Bench Division. Judge retained the role when he became lord chief justice in 2008. Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd also kept the role when he became lord chief justice in 2013.
Burnett will remain president of the Court of Appeal criminal division. Today's announcement does not explain why he has decided, contrary to his two predecessors, to separate the two roles. One explanation could be Leveson's background and experience in criminal justice.
Leveson, called to the bar in 1970, was chairman of the Criminal Justice Council from 2008 until 2011. He also chaired the Sentencing Council from 2008 until 2011. He conducted an extensive review of efficiency in criminal proceedings, publishing a 140-page report in January 2015. However, he is more widely known for chairing the inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press between 2011 and 2012.