Swaffer succeeds Sir Quentin Thomas who stepped down after ten years.

Patrick Swaffer has become president of the British Board of Film Classification.

Swaffer is a former senior and managing partner of Goodman Derrick solicitors. He currently is a consultant to that firm, sits as a recorder in the Crown Court and is a partner in Media Compliance Services LLP.

He knows the BBFC well having been its legal adviser for many years, a role which he will now relinquish.

Swaffer said: “The classification of films and DVDs and the provision of additional consumer advice allow members of the public, particularly parents, to make informed viewing choices. Where necessary the BBFC steps in to protect the public, particularly children, from content that might cause them harm.

“The classification guidelines published by the BBFC, and its consistent and clear approach to classification issues, have ensured that it continues to enjoy the trust of the public, the local authorities and the film industry. The BBFC’s well-known and widely recognised classification symbols are now not only seen at the cinema and on DVDs but also on many websites where films may be viewed or downloaded. The BBFC encourages this responsible approach and is working with online content providers to offer a range of services to meet the public demand for classification and full information. Some 90% of parents wish to see the BBFC’s symbols on film downloads.”

Swaffer’s predecessor Sir Quentin Thomas was partly credited with fostering a more tolerant BBFC, with titles such as Antichrist and Irreversible passed uncut for theatrical release, for example.

However, the BBFC this year ordered new research into on-screen sexual violence following the controversy over ‘torture porn’ films including notorious title The Human Centipede II.

The Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, will lay an order before both Houses of Parliament proposing to designate Patrick under the Video Recordings Act 1984 as the authority responsible for making arrangements for the classification of videos.