Former diplomat Sir Andrew Burns has been appointed the third chair of the Bar Standards Board, the regulator announced today. 

He will replace Lady Deech who steps down at the end of the maximum six-year term of office at the end of the year. Burns will take up the role on 1 January 2015, initially for three years, after a long career in the diplomatic service.

The public school- and Cambridge-educated Burns, 71, was British high commissioner to Canada from 2000-2003, British consul-general in Hong Kong and Macau from 1997-2000 and British ambassador to Israel between 1992-1995.

He was awarded the KCMG (Knight Commander of St Michael and St George) in 1997 and is currently the UK envoy for post-Holocaust issues and chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. 

Among other roles he has held are international governor of the BBC; chairman of Royal Holloway College, University of London and chair of the committee of university chairs.

Commenting on her time in office, Deech said the past six years had been ‘exciting, challenging, and rewarding’. She said: ‘There has never been a dull moment throughout my tenure, and I shall look back on this period with great pride.’

On Burns’ appointment, she said: ‘I look forward to working with Sir Andrew - whose career I hold in the highest regard - over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition.'

Burns said: ‘I am very excited at the prospect of leading the BSB through the next stage of its journey to becoming a more modern and efficient regulator. I am committed to working with the bar to help it modernise and flourish in the face of change, while maintaining quality standards and safeguarding the client.’

He added: ‘I look forward to leading a highly talented and dedicated board and a skilled and hard-working staff who are committed to promoting high standards of practice and protecting the public.’

Burns is the BSB's third chair since it was established in 2006, headed by Ruth Evans. All three have been lay members of the board, although the definition of 'lay' was amended part way through Deech's tenure. When she was appointed, she was classified as lay, because although she had been called to the bar she had never practised. Now anyone who has been called is classified as a barrister member.

The BSB said Burns was selected following a ‘rigorous’ recruitment process undertaken by an independent appointments panel, chaired by Dr Kenneth Fleming, director of international affairs for the Royal College of Pathologists.