Leveson Inquiry will be shelved or re-assigned if Sir Brian Leveson is appointed Lord Chief Justice

Lord Justice Leveson is already being described as 'a strong candidate' for the role by some leading judges and barristers.

The Leveson Inquiry’s examination of the “unlawful practices within News International and other newspapers” will be shelved or re-assigned to another senior judge if Sir Brian Leveson is appointed Lord Chief Justice next year, senior judicial sources have told The Independent.

Lord Justice Leveson, an appeal court judge and currently head of the Sentencing Council for England and Wales, is understood to have told senior judicial colleagues that he intends to apply for the job as head of the judiciary when it is formally advertised later this year or early next year.

He is already being described as “a strong candidate” by some leading  judges and barristers.

The Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, will head the process of selecting the successor to Lord Judge. A  panel will be formed that comprises the president of the Supreme Court, the chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission, a lay member of the JAC,  and the current Lord Chief Justice.

However before there is a final confirmation of who gets the top job, the decision will have to be approved  by  David Cameron and the Queen, as head of state.

It is expected that if Sir Brian gets the job,  he will be informed in April next year and will formally take over from Lord Judge when the new legal year begins on October 1. 

Part I of the inquiry’s findings will be delivered this Thursday.  It will be down to the Prime Minister and ultimately Parliament if the inquiry’s recommendations become law.

If the Leveson Report recommends a tough statutory role for press regulation, Mr Cameron may find it difficult to fully back the report and keep all of his party onside.

Part II of the press inquiry,  described by Lord Justice Leveson as the "who-did-what-to-whom” section,  is still scheduled to take part after all criminal proceedings relating to phone hacking and bribery charges have concluded.

However with  the criminal process likely to last well into 2014, it would  not be possible for Sir Brian to hold the post of Lord Chief Justice and devote time to Part II of the Leveson Inquiry.

A decision by Downing Street would then need to be taken to ask Sir Brian to nominate another judge to take over his own inquiry. However senior judicial sources have told The Independent that this would be regarded as “highly unusual circumstances” with the more likely option being a decision by Downing Street to state that  the criminal courts process had effectively removed the need for Leveson II.

The competition to get the job as the  top judge  is expected to be fierce. Following changes to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which removed some of the judicial power of the Lord Chancellor, the role of Lord Chief Justice has widened.

Other candidates likely to be in the running include Sir Brian’s  court of appeal colleague, Lady Justice Hallet; the vice president of the criminal division, Lord Justice Hughes;  and the Queen’s Bench Division president, Lord Justice Thomas.

The leading media barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC, told the Legalweek website:  “Lord Judge’s successor needs to be someone who can provide leadership for the whole judiciary  and is able to serve at least five years. Now that the retirement age has been reduced to 70, the pool of candidates has been reduced. “

Sir Brian will be 64 next year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine