A legal expert who acted as counsel at the inquest of Princess Diana has been made Baron of Maldon and sworn in as the head of the judiciary.

Sir Ian Burnett, who is 59, has entered the House of Lords taking the title of Baron Burnett of Maldon.

He has been sworn in as Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales.

Baron Burnett, who lives in Essex with his wife, Caroline, and his children Robert and Helen, studied law at Oxford and practised at Temple Garden Chambers until 2008.

During this time he was the leading counsel at the inquiry into the Southall rail crash in 1997 which claimed seven lives and injured a further 139 people.

He also acted as counsel at the inquests into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi al Fayed.

In 2000, he became a recorder and he sat as a part time judge, later being appointed to the High Court in 2008.

Baron Burnett was vice chairman of the independent judicial appointments commission from November 2015 until March 2017, when he decided to step down to apply for his new role.

Speaking after his appointment Baron Burnett: “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.

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

Speaking at his appointment Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, said: “In the course of his distinguished judicial career, he has acquired among his colleagues a universal reputation for calmness, balance, good sense and humour.”

He added: “I have no doubt that Sir Ian’s wide experience both in and out of court, his temperament and the high regard in which he is held will provide the best possible means of meeting those challenges on behalf of the judiciary.”