Burford Capital is a senior executive and finance chief analyst.

Burford, which specializes in funding lawsuits in exchange for a settlements, has faced criticism over the fact that his chief financial officer, Elizabeth O'Connell, is married to the chief executive, Christopher Bogart.

Muddy Waters, a San Francisco-based hedge fund, said the pair's relationship posed a conflict of interest and should alert investors.

Burford said on Thursday, "Burst's CEO and chief financial officer are married. Burford's control structure and ignores Burford's finance and accounting structure. Nevertheless, it would be preferable to alternative CFO. "

O'Connell, appointed in 2017, has been replaced by Jim Kilman, a former Morgan Stanley investment banker. O'Connell wants to serve now in the lower-tier role of chief strategy officer.

But Burford's efforts failed to pacify Carson Block, the founder of Muddy Waters, who said the new finance chief was still too cozy with Burford's leadership.

Mr Kilman as CFO wants to substantially improve governance is a farce … Burford's would be better served by a CFO from the outside who is untainted by Burford's conduct to date, "Block said.

Muddy Waters' public attack on Burford last week wiped £ 1bn off the company's value. The fact that it would be a position on Burford shares.

Neil Woodford, who holds a 7% stake in the business. Burford is listed on Aim, the London Stock Exchange's junior market.

Shares in Burford rose 13% on news of the top-level changes, to 880.5p. They had been trading at £ 13.95 before Muddy Waters launched its attack.

Burford has said efforts by Muddy Waters could amount to market manipulation. The City watchdog has begun "wide-ranging inquiries" over the cause of the share price drop.

Burford said on Thursday Sir Peter Middleton as chairman. Middleton has been in the job for 10 years, surpassing the nine-year limit suggested by the UK corporate governance code.

Burford thus appears plans to become the first publicly traded litigation finance firm in the US. It said it hoped to float on the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange by March 2020. Muddy Waters claimed Burford had dodged broader disclosure requirements by staying listed on London's alternative investment market.

Middleton said: "We trust this governance enhancements operate to bolster investor confidence in Burford as it enters its next era of growth and success."