Brian Leveson

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Sir Brian Leveson
Head of Criminal Justice
In office
18 October 2017 – 23 June 2019
Preceded bySir Ian Burnett
(As Lord Chief Justice)
Succeeded byDame Victoria Sharp
President of the Queen's Bench Division
In office
1 October 2013 – 23 June 2019
DeputyDame Heather Hallett
Preceded bySir John Thomas
Succeeded byDame Victoria Sharp
Lord Justice of Appeal
In office
2 October 2006 – 1 October 2013
Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales
In office
1 January 2007 – 31 December 2009
DeputyLord Justice Goldring
Preceded byLord Justice Thomas
Succeeded byLord Justice Goldring
5th Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University
In office
20 May 2013 – 1 January 2022
Vice-ChancellorNigel Weatherill
Preceded byBrian May, CBE
Personal details
Brian Henry Leveson

(1949-06-22) 22 June 1949 (age 73)
Liverpool, England
SpouseLynne née Fishel
Alma materLiverpool College
Merton College, Oxford

Sir Brian Henry Leveson[1] PC (/ˈlɛvɪsən/ LEV-iss-ən; born 22 June 1949) is a retired English judge who served as the President of the Queen's Bench Division and Head of Criminal Justice.

Leveson chaired the public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press, prompted by the News of the World phone hacking affair.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Leveson was born in Liverpool, on 22 June 1949.[4] He was educated at Liverpool College, a public school in Mossley Hill, Liverpool. He studied at Merton College, Oxford[5] and was President of the Oxford Law Society.[6]

Legal career[edit]

Leveson was called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1970. He initially practised in Liverpool and took silk in 1986.[7] Leveson became a bencher in 1995,[7] acted as a Recorder between 1988 and 2000, and as a Deputy High Court Judge between 1998 and 2000.[7] In 2000, Leveson was appointed as a Judge of the High Court, Queen's Bench Division, and served as a Presiding Judge of the Northern Circuit between 2002–2005.[7]

In 2006, Leveson was appointed to the new position of Deputy Senior Presiding Judge[7] and, on 2 October 2006, he was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal.[8] He was promoted to Senior Presiding Judge with effect from 1 January 2007. He was Treasurer of Middle Temple for the year 2020.[9]

Notable cases[edit]

In 1989 Leveson was the lead prosecution counsel at the trial of comedian Ken Dodd. Dodd was charged with tax evasion, but was acquitted at Liverpool Crown Court, despite seemingly strong evidence.

Leveson was the lead prosecution counsel during the trial of Rosemary West, who went on to be convicted for the murders of ten young women, including her own eldest daughter, in November 1995.[10][11] While sitting with Lord Justice Mantell[12] in the Court of Appeal in 2002 under the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, he upheld the murder conviction of James Hanratty.[13] He also presided over the trial of ex-US Marine Toby Studebaker for charges relating to child grooming over the internet.[14] He sentenced 100-year-old Bernard Heginbotham, who was found guilty of manslaughter of his wife of 67 years, 87-year-old Ida, to a 12-month rehabilitation order.[15] He also presided over the trial of two men who were found guilty in 2005 of murdering Anthony Walker with an axe.[3] He was one of the judges in the appeal of Ruth Ellis in 2003 who said that the appeal was without merit.[16]

In November 2007, the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal, constituted by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Leveson and Mr Justice Simon, quashed the conviction of Barry George and ordered a retrial in relation to the murder in 2001 of BBC presenter Jill Dando.[17] He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in 2000 and sworn as a Privy Counsellor in 2006. On 1 October 2013, Leveson was appointed President of the Queen's Bench Division, succeeding Sir John Thomas.[18]

He was one of three judges who heard an appeal in 2013 by several men who had admitted terrorist offences. One of them, Usman Khan, whose sentence was as a result changed from an "indeterminate sentence" to a "determinate term" of 16 years imprisonment, later committed the 2019 London Bridge stabbing.[19]

Press ethics inquiry and News International phone hacking scandal[edit]

It was announced on 13 July 2011 that Leveson would lead the public inquiry into issues of British press culture, practices and ethics raised by the News International phone hacking scandal.[2] On 20 July, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the scope of the inquiry had widened to include the BBC and social media.[20][21]

The hearings began on Monday 14 November 2011.[22] The full report was published on 29 November 2012[23] and is available online.[24]

Later career[edit]

In 2013 Leveson was appointed as Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University,[25] taking over from Brian May, who stepped down at the end of his term.[26]

In 2019, Leveson was appointed as the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, and re-appointed for a further three-year term in October 2022.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Leveson and his wife Lynne (daughter of Aubrey Fishel, also from Liverpool) are Jewish.[10][28] The couple have three children, and live in Hampstead Garden Suburb.[29]


  1. ^ Leveson, Brian. "Opening remarks". Leveson Inquiry: About the Inquiry. Leveson Inquiry. Archived from the original on 1 December 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ a b Phone hacking: Prime minister reveals inquiry powers BBC News, 13 July 2011
  3. ^ a b Binham, Caroline (13 July 2011). "Leveson seen as 'steady pair of hands'". Financial Times. Retrieved 25 July 2011.(subscription required)
  4. ^ "The Rt Hon Lord Justice Leveson". Debretts. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  5. ^ "Preview Family Record – Leveson". Burkes Peerage. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  6. ^ Greenslade, Roy (26 November 2015). "Brian Leveson on Rebekah Brooks: tell me about it..." The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e Lord Justice Leveson appointed as Chairman of the Sentencing Council Archived 15 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Sentencing Council, 16 March 2010
  8. ^ "No. 58116". The London Gazette. 5 October 2006. p. 13573.
  9. ^ "Officers of the Inn," Middle Temple website, retrieved 29 January 2020.
  10. ^ a b Bennett, Will (4 October 1995). "Media frenzy as Rosemary West faces murder jury". The Independent. London. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  11. ^ "The horrific secrets of 25 Cromwell Street". The Independent. 7 October 1995.
  12. ^ "Sir Charles Mantell". The Telegraph. London. 11 May 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  13. ^ R v Hanratty [2002] EWCA Crim 1141 (10 May 2002)
  14. ^ "US marine jailed for abducting internet girl". The Times. Press Association. 2 April 2004. Retrieved 17 July 2011.(subscription required)
  15. ^ "Wife killer, 100, spared prison". BBC News. 8 July 2004. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  16. ^ R v Ellis [2003] EWCA Crim 3556 (8 December 2003)
  17. ^ R v George [2007] EWCA Crim 2722
  18. ^ "Appointment of the President of the Queen's Bench Division". 10 Downing Street. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  19. ^ R v Khan & Ors [2013] EWCA Crim 468 (16 April 2013)
  20. ^ Wintour, Patrick (20 July 2011). "David Cameron widens inquiry on media regulation to include the BBC". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  21. ^ "Phone hacking: Cameron widens remit of Leveson probe". BBC News. 20 July 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  22. ^ "Background". Leveson Inquiry front page. The Leveson Inquiry. Archived from the original on 31 December 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  23. ^ BBC News – Leveson report: New body to curb press 'havoc'. (1 January 1970).
  24. ^ "Leveson Inquiry: Culture, Practices and Ethics of The Press". The National Archives. Archived from the original on 30 November 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  25. ^ "Office of the Vice-Chancellor". Liverpool John Moores University. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  26. ^ Hornby, Mike (14 March 2013). "Leveson named chancellor of Liverpool John Moores". The Independent. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  27. ^ "Latest civil service & public affairs moves – October 24". Civil Service World. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  28. ^ "Lord Justice Leveson to lead phonehacking inquiry". The Jewish Chronicle. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  29. ^ Weston, Alan (14 July 2011). "Liverpool-born judge Lord Justice Brian Leveson to lead inquiry into phone hacking scandal". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 25 July 2011.

External links[edit]