Sir Terence Etherton – who made legal history almost a decade ago when he became the first openly gay judge to be made a Lord Justice of Appeal – has been appointed as the second most senior judge in England and Wales.
The 64-year-old former Olympic fencer, who is currently Chancellor of the High Court, will succeed Lord Dyson as Master of the Rolls when he retires in October.
The announcement was made by Downing Street on Thursday.
Sir Terence became a High Court judge in 2001. When he was made a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2008, he said his appointment “shows that diversity in sexuality is not a bar to preferment up to the highest levels of the judiciary”.
He entered a civil partnership in 2006 and in 2014, after a change in the law, he and partner Andrew Stone were married in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony at West London Synagogue.
Sir Terence, who studied history and law at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, was in the British sabre team from 1977 to 1980 and qualified for the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow.
He became chancellor in 2013. The Master of the Rolls – a position which dates back to at least the 13th century – is the head of civil justice and the second most senior judge – after the Lord Chief Justice – in England and Wales.
The Master of the Rolls is president of the Court of Appeal’s civil division, which hears appeals on the full range of civil, family and tribunal cases.
Downing Street said in a statement that the appointment of Sir Terence “was made by Her Majesty The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor following the recommendation of an independent selection panel” chaired by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas.
Lord Thomas said: “I am delighted to congratulate Sir Terence Etherton on his appointment as Master of the Rolls.
“Following his excellent work as Chancellor over the last three years, I look forward to continuing to work with him closely in the major reform of our system of justice.”