SOUTH Swindon MP Robert Buckland spoke of his surprise and delight at becoming a knight of the realm.

The 53-year-old received the rare title in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

He told the Adver: “I’m absolutely delighted, it’s a great honour and a very good way to start the new year. I was told about this a few weeks ago and my friends and family have been very good about it.

“I’m so pleased they are able to share in something so positive, because this job is often very difficult and tough, so moments like this are ones to treasure.

 “I’d like to think of this honour as a representation of the work I have done and continue to do for Swindon, most importantly, and nationally when I led on justice issues, along with work on other matters like autism and disability.

“If I can promote the causes which are dear to me through this recognition and use it as a springboard to remind people of the work that still needs to be done in important areas, then this has been very worthwhile.

“It’s the work that’s most important, and the service and the opportunities that I’ve been given by the people of Swindon and colleagues in government, and chances I have had to make a difference.”

He could never have imagined receiving such an honour when he first started his career in law. The Llanelli-born barrister worked in Welsh courts between 1992 and 2010 while dipping his toe into the world of local politics.

Mr Buckland first stood as a South Swindon electoral candidate for the Conservative Party in 2005 then, after a narrow defeat, had a more successful attempt in 2010.

He was appointed Solicitor General for England and Wales in 2014 before going on to become Ministry of State for Prisons in May 2019, then justice secretary and Lord Chancellor two months later. The prime minister removed him from Cabinet in September 2021.

Looking back, he recalled a few of his career highlights: “The work on domestic abuse which involved changing the law to make it more reflective of the awful reality of being a victim of that crime, and protecting victims of crime, and reforms for the sentencing system.

“Trying to make sure the prisons did not become centres of disease during the Covid outbreak in 2020 to prevent death and disorder or any other issues. We managed to successfully contain it.

"Though the courts have been under immense pressure, the team I led managed to keep them running by providing equipment and technology during the pandemic, which I’m very proud of.”

Though he could, if inclined, insist on people calling him Sir from now on, the former Lord Chancellor has a more modest attitude about the new title.

Robert added: “I still have plenty more to give, lots still to do, and this won’t change my ways. I’ll be back volunteering at the vaccination centre in Steam on Monday.”