Sir Ian Burnett makes YouTube debut as lord chief justice

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Oct 03, 2017
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Sir Ian Burnett said: “I believe we should be better at explaining our role and the vital importance of our independence”

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The youngest lord chief justice in half a century was sworn in yesterday, marking the occasion with a YouTube video in which he urged judges to do more to explain what they do.

Sir Ian Burnett, 59, takes over as head of the judiciary of England and Wales from Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who retired on October 1.

The ceremony was held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. In the video he posted afterwards, he said: “At times of great change the central role of the judiciary upholding the rule of law remains a constant, as do our impartiality and independence.

“These features are embedded in the oath I have taken. They are fundamental to our justice system and underpin the effective and smooth functioning of our society.”

He added: “I believe we should be better at explaining our role and the vital importance of our independence and impartiality.”

The judge, who lives in Essex with his wife and children, has been involved in many high-profile cases and inquiries during his career, including counsel to the inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed.
His new responsibilities include representing the views of the judiciary to parliament and the government.

In a day of legal firsts, the first female president of the UK’s highest court was also sworn in. Baroness Hale of Richmond’s appointment to head the Supreme Court, announced in July, makes her the first woman to reach the top of the judiciary.

A long-standing champion of diversity in the judiciary, she became the first woman justice of the court in October 2009 and was appointed deputy president in June 2013.

The Supreme Court also welcomed Lord Mance as deputy president, as well as three new judges including a second female justice, Lady Justice Black.

Lady Hale, 72, who succeeds Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury as the UK’s most senior judge, has had a varied career as an academic lawyer, law reformer and judge. During her time as deputy president of the Supreme Court, she has ruled on headline-hitting cases including the Brexit appeal.

Also sworn in was Lord Justice Lloyd-Jones, who made history by taking his oath of office in both English and Welsh; and Lord Justice Briggs, a Chancery specialist who chaired an inquiry into the civil courts system.

A spokesman for the judiciary said: “Sir Ian wants to explain as widely as possible the role of judges, their independence and impartiality.”

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