Sir John Thomas is to succeed Lord Judge as lord chief justice, Number 10 Downing Street confirmed today.
Thomas was chosen over the two other applicants – Lady Justice Hallett, who is currently Thomas’s deputy at the Queen’s Bench Division and who chaired the 7/7 London bombing inquest; and Lord Justice Leveson, who carried out the inquiry into press standards.
Roger Laugharne Thomas, 65, will take up the post on 1 October.
Thomas was educated at Rugby School and Trinity College Cambridge where he studied law, before being called to the bar by Gray’s Inn in 1969.
He practised at the commercial bar in London and became a Queen’s Counsel in 1984. He was appointed a recorder in 1987, before being appointed a High Court judge in 1996, and was assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division and the Commercial Court.
He was an inspector into the affairs of Mirror Group Newspapers following the death of Robert Maxwell.
From 1998-2001 he was one of the presiding judges of the Wales and Chester circuit.
In June 2003, Thomas became a lord justice of appeal and served as the senior presiding judge for England and Wales from 2003 to 2006.
In October 2008, Thomas was appointed vice-president of the Queen’s Bench Division, before succeeding Sir Anthony May as president in October 2011.
He has been deputy head of criminal justice as well as judge in charge of European issues since 2008 and was president of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary from May 2008 to December 2010.
Thomas is one of the founding members of the European Law Institute, a non-profit organisation that conducts research, makes recommendations and provides practical guidance in the field of European legal development with a goal of enhancing the European legal integration.
He is an honorary fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and a fellow of the Universities of Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Swansea and Bangor, and an Honorary Doctor of Law of the Universities of Glamorgan, the West of England and Wales.
He is vice-president of ARIAS (UK), past-president of the British Insurance Law Association and a vice-president of the British Maritime Law Association. He is co-chairman of the trustees of the International Law Book Facility.
In a statement Thomas said: 'It is a privilege and honour to succeed Lord Judge as Lord Chief Justice and head of the Judiciary of England and Wales. He has made not only an outstanding contribution to the development of the law, but has guided the judiciary over the past five years through times of great change. He is universally admired for his deep commitment to justice, the independence of the judiciary and the outstanding leadership he has given to all judges and magistrates.
'It will be a hard task to follow such a great chief justice, but I will endeavour to maintain confidence in the judiciary, its reputation and its high standards of integrity and impartiality. Although in a time of reduced resources significant change must continue, the judiciary will play its leading part in ensuring that justice is delivered fairly and efficiently. It will continue to become more reflective of our diverse society. It will also continue to play a constructive role in its relationships with government, parliament and the media, but with the tensions that are inevitable in maintaining the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the rights of individuals.'