The Rt Hon Sir Brian Leveson QC
Sir Brian Leveson is perhaps best known for his outstanding contribution to the legal profession as one of England's most respected judges and chair of the Leveson Inquiry into ethics within the UK media. But not everyone might be aware that his roots stem from Liverpool, and LJMU is proud to have appointed him as Chancellor of the university in 2013, a role he undertook until 2021.
He was born on 22 June 1949 in Liverpool and educated at Liverpool College. Brian's route to the Bench took him to Merton College, Oxford and call to the Bar by Middle Temple in 1970. He practised on the Northern Circuit from chambers in Castle Street, Liverpool, across the full range of common law, crime, personal injury and commercial work.
He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1986 and was a Recorder and a Deputy High Court Judge. He was appointed a Judge of the High Court, Queen’s Bench Division, in 2000, and served as a Presiding Judge of the Northern Circuit. In 2005 he was appointed to the new position of Deputy Senior Presiding Judge and in 2006, following his appointment as a Lord Justice of Appeal, he became Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales.
In 2009, he was appointed Chairman of the Sentencing Council which is a post he held until October 2013.
In 2010, Sir Brian returned to Liverpool and took part in our Roscoe Lecture Series in which he spoke about ‘Criminal Justice in the 21st Century’ to a packed-out Philharmonic Hall.
In July 2011, he was appointed by the Prime Minister as chairman of the public inquiry investigating the culture, practices and ethics of the press and its relationship with the public, the police and politicians. Now known as the Leveson Inquiry, the resulting report was published in 2012, fundamentally changing the way the UK's media operates.
Leveson was made an Honorary Fellow of LJMU in 2012 for his outstanding contribution to the legal profession and in 2013 he was installed as our fifth Chancellor.
He was appointed President of the Queen’s Bench Division in October 2013 and became a member of the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee. In January 2015, he published a Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings. In October 2017, he was appointed Head of Criminal Justice and thereafter Deputy Chair of the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee.
In 2019 he retired as President of the Queen’s Bench Division.
“In 1823 a small institution started an educational evolution in Liverpool. That institution was the forerunner of LJMU, and while nearly 200 years have elapsed since the Liverpool Mechanics' and Apprentices' Library first opened its doors to the city's working men and women, the revolutionary zeal still beats hard and fast in the university today. Academics work across departments, across disciplines, across continents in their pursuit of knowledge and solutions to the challenges we face today, and, just like their predecessors, students refuse to he typecast, instead emerging as inspirational leaders, global citizens and the innovators of tomorrow.”
– Sir Brian Leveson during LJMU’s 25th anniversary year in 2017
In his eight years as Chancellor, Sir Brian Leveson hosted annual celebrations at Middle Temple in London for large groups of both staff and students, gaining a thorough knowledge of activities across the whole curriculum, not just simply law. Alongside presiding over key events on campus including graduation and the opening of new university facilities such as the Student Life building in 2021.
He saw his position as a way to demonstrate to students that ‘you can do it too’ but that ‘what you get out of life depends on what you put into it’ and was always impressed with the enthusiasm and ‘joie de vivre’ of LJMU students.
He maintains a strong commitment to Liverpool and to LJMU, as Chancellor Emeritus, and continues to be a keen supporter of the opportunities that students gain through the university's cultural partnerships, travel and international opportunities. He believes that LJMU caters for and develops the whole person, offering opportunities for experience and enrichment of an order of magnitude which, he believes, exceeds many other universities.