It is not difficult to see why. Of a relatively small number of judges who had been in the Court of Appeal long enough to be candidates for the top job, he had obvious credentials - extensive criminal justice experience and chairman of the Criminal Justice Consultative Committee. Many barristers and judges thought the appointment would be the logical step.
Like Lord Taylor, he hails from the North and had been to a grammar school, followed by Leeds and Oxford Universities and the Northern Circuit. He was also a strenuous defender of the independence of the judiciary and could be confrontational when the occasion demanded. When Michael Howard's sentencing White Paper was announced, he was one of the most outspoken critics.
His glowing reputation was dented, however, by what some saw as a touch of complacency at the Bar Council's recent annual conference, during a discussion on whether the Bar was a hostile environment to women. On the contrary, he replied, there were one or two examples, where women had been appointed when, if they had been men of comparable ability, they would not have been.