One of the country's most senior former police officers has been appointed chancellor of a North-East university.

John Stevens, who was made Lord Stevens of Kirkwelpington in the New Year's Honours List, was yesterday named the new Chancellor of Northumbria University.

During his 43-year police career, Lord Stevens became one of the best known officers in the country, firstly as Chief Constable of Northumbria from 1991 to 1996 and then as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the highest-ranking officer in the force, before his retirement earlier this year.

He is also widely known for his four-year inquiry into allegations of collusion between the security forces and terrorists in Northern Ireland and is currently chairing the inquiry into the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed.

Lord Stevens, who is also president of Durham County Cricket Club, said: "I do not intend to be a distant presence.

"I live in the North East of England and I intend to use every opportunity to get to know Northumbria University as an academic community of which I am proud to be new Chancellor."

The appointment was welcomed by the university's vice chancellor, Professor Kel Fidler, who said: "Northumbria University is very active internationally, and it is important that we have a Chancellor who also has a global perspective.

"Lord Stevens has advised governments worldwide on a range of security matters; and just as importantly, he has a deep and abiding respect for education as a force in today's world."

Lord Stevens will replace Lord Glenamara as chancellor, who announced his intention to step down from the post after more than two decades.

This is the second new chancellor appointed to a North-East university this year - in April, American author Bill Bryson was appointed to the top position at Durham University.

* Northumbria has been named Best New University in the Higher Education League Tables published by The Times.