Sir Brian Leveson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Kingston University (KU) during the university's recent graduation ceremonies.

Sir Brian, who was widely regarded as the UK's most senior criminal judge until his recent retirement, is perhaps best known as the chair of the Leveson Inquiry which from 2011 investigated journalistic ethics in the British media following the phone-hacking scandal.

He was also appointed President of the Queen's Bench Division of the judiciary in 2013, and Head of Criminal Justice in England and Wales from 2017 until his retirement in June of this year.

A spokesperson for KU said that Sir Brian had been awarded the honour for his "outstanding contribution to the public understanding of journalism – having chaired the landmark Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press – alongside a distinguished career in the field of justice."

Addressing students at a graduation ceremony at Kingston's Rose Theatre, Sir Brian stressed the importance of hard work as he reflected on his own career.

"There is no substitute for doing the work, in whatever field you care to operate," he said.

"I used to say that I would always make sure that when I went into court to argue a case, I knew more about the case than anyone else.

"Don't just try to wing it. It may work once or twice, but you will be found out and your reputation will suffer as a result," Sir Brian told the Kingston alumni.

The renowned former Justice also referenced the online tool developed at KU — Discover Leveson — which allows web users the chance to access individual video and text testimonies of those who submitted evidence to the Leveson Inquiry with ease.

"The inquiry is a piece of work of which I'm extremely proud and it sits there as a record of how the press operated in the early years of the 21st century," he said.

"The great thing about Discover Leveson is that it has made it accessible.

"Students of journalism, researchers and anyone interested in its findings can read or watch the evidence and read the transcript, statements and submissions and the report itself. It's a wonderful resource," he said.

KU's Professor of Journalism Brian Cathcart said the award recognised a 50 year career of public service that led to the very top of the justice system.

"Sir Brian produced a report that I am convinced provides us with by far the best roadmap we have ever had towards better, fairer and more ethical journalism in this country," he said.

"In honouring Sir Brian we show our commitment to the rule of law and say to the world that fairness, humanity and kindness are virtues we respect and aspire to," Mr Cathcart added.