Lord McNally, the veteran justice minister who shepherded the government’s legal aid reforms through the House of Lords, has been replaced as justice minister by Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes.

Lord Faulks, the barrister Edward Faulks QC, becomes justice minister in the Lords. 

The prime minister announced today Simon Hughes had been appointed minister of state at the Ministry of Justice following the resignation from government of the Rt Hon Lord McNally on his appointment as chair of the Youth Justice Board

Hughes, 62, deputy leader of the Lib Dems, will have responsibility for family justice, mediation, freedom of information and data protection. He was called to the bar in Inner Temple in 1974 and entered parliament in 1983. He served as Lib Dem shadow to the attorney general from 2005 to 2007.

McNally, 70, began his front-rank political career under Labour former prime minister Jim Callaghan.

He was among the first group of MPs to defect to the Social Democratic Party. As the coalition's justice minister he was responsible for seeing the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill through the House of Lords. He also championed the Defamation Act due to come in to effect next month.