Former chief crown prosecutor named new Chancellor of The University of Manchester


Nazir Afzal, the former North West chief crown prosecutor, has been named as the new Chancellor of The University of Manchester, it was revealed today.

Mr Afzal, who brought the Rochdale grooming gang to justice and was honored with an OBE in 2005 for his community work and career with the Crown Prosecution Service, will succeed poet Lemn Sissay in the role on August 1, the university announced.

An installation ceremony will take place at the university in October, following the completion of the seven-year tenure of Mr Sissay, said a spokesperson. Mr Afzal, who lives in Manchester, was most recently Chief Executive of the country’s Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

During his 24-year career, he has prosecuted some of the highest profile criminal cases in the country, advised on others and led nationally on issues such as violence against women and girls, child sexual abuse and honor based violence.

“It is a huge privilege and honor to serve the University of Manchester as Chancellor,” Mr Afzal said. “This son of immigrants, born in an impoverished, inner-city terraced house, could never have imagined that my journey would take me here, and I intend to remind people that this extraordinary institution represents the best this country has to offer.”



The University of Manchester

Giving considerable time to charitable work, he also sits on the Independent Press Standards Organisation, is National Adviser on Gender Based Violence to the Welsh Government and an independent member of charity Oxfam’s Safeguarding and Ethics Committee. Mr Afzal was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law at the university in 2017.

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President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, said: “I am delighted to welcome Nazir, who has an incredible record of public service and who personifies our university’s values. I look forward to welcoming him to the university community and working with him to promote our ambitious plans over the coming years.

“I would also like to pay tribute to Lemn for his tremendous work over the past seven years. He has been an amazing supporter of our university, bringing life to the role – a ceremonial office with significant ambassadorial responsibilities – thanks to his star quality and wholehearted enthusiasm. It has been a pleasure working with him.”

Mr Sissay OBE added: “I have had a wonderful seven years as Chancellor of the university. While my time in this particular role will end this summer, I look forward to continuing my close relationship as an honorary chair in creative writing. I do wish Nazir all the best as the next Chancellor of this unique, world-leading university.”



Poet Lemn Sissay

The Chancellor is the ceremonial head of the university and ambassador who works with the President and Vice-Chancellor and other senior officers to promote the university’s achievements regionally, nationally, and internationally.

The university revealed a nomination process was held in February and March. All university staff, members of the Board of Governors and General Assembly, along with eligible alumni, were invited to nominate a candidate to succeed the current Chancellor.

When nominations closed, Mr Afzal had received the greatest number of nominations from the electorate and was the only candidate to receive the required number of 20 nominations from electors, said the university in a statement.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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