The distribution of honors in Britain is always controversial. And the latest announcement is no different, after critics met with disbelief at the news that former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is to be knighted.
“Principals and union leaders expressed shock and surprise” when Downing Street said yesterday the Queen had approved the honor for “political and public service”. The Telegraph reported.
Explaining the unusual timing of the announcement, a government source told the newspaper that it was planned for the New Year Honors list but was “delayed” after Williamson became involved in the “Partygate” scandal.
The question of whether the honors system can be influenced financially or otherwise has occupied the British public for decades. Here are some of the most acrimonious disputes over honors in recent UK political history:
Lloyd George’s Cash for Patronage scandal
David Lloyd George enjoyed a brilliant political career, including serving as Prime Minister from 1916 to 1922.
But the Liberal prime minister was embroiled in a major cash for patronage scandal in 1922 over his resignation honor roll. Although buying peerages was not illegal, Lloyd George was accused of raising funds for his party by selling peerages and using the honors system to (unsuccessfully) avoid criticism from newspapers.
It was the audacity of Lloyd George’s “Price List for Nobility” that caused a scandal. They were arranged by political fixer Maundy Gregory, who sold peerages “ranging from £10,000 (over £400,000 today) for a knighthood to £40,000 for a baronetcy”. The guard.
From 1917 to 1922, more than “120 hereditary contemporaries alone were created,” it says The audience. Cardiff – Lloyd George grew up in Wales and spoke Welsh as his first language – received so many knighthoods that “it became known as the ‘City of Dreadful Knights,'” according to the magazine.
The scandal led to the passage of the Honors (Prevention of Abuses) Act in 1925, and Gregory eventually became the only person convicted under the law and continued to falsely offer honors to the wealthy and allies well into the 1930s.
Wilson’s Lavender List
Allegedly handwritten on pastel-colored paper by Harold Wilson’s closest associate, Marcia Williams, later Lady Falkender, the so-called “Lavender List” has become an infamous document in modern political history.
The list of businessmen names chosen by Wilson to honor his resignation in 1976 gave way to James Callaghan as the next prime minister. The list was controversial as many felt it “sanctioned the appointment and knighting of corrupt and shady businessmen”. The times – many of them held views contrary to Labor Party values.
Names included a knighting for Joseph Kagan, who was later convicted of false accounting, and businessman Eric Miller, who committed suicide while his company was under investigation.
However, further controversy was fueled by the suggestion that Lady Falkender was either the primary author of the list or had attempted to expand the list in order to reward her friends and benefit financially from the list herself. The list is “an indication of the influence she exercised over Wilson, her alleged lover,” the newspaper said.
Lady Falkender denied any involvement in compiling the list, claiming she “merely copied it from another list on Rosa,” he said financial times in her 2019 obituary. And 2007 the BBC was forced to pay her £75,000 in damages for defamation after a BBC Four docu-drama claimed she had an affair with Wilson and unduly influenced the list.
Blair’s cash for honors scandal
In 2006, Tony Blair became the first prime minister to be questioned by police in an investigation into political corruption that would drag on for 16 months and overshadow the final days of his tenure.
An inquiry has been launched after SNP MP Angus MacNeil complained that four wealthy businessmen were nominated for peerages by Tony Blair after loaning the party a combined £5million.
All four peerages were blocked by the House of Lords’ Nominating Committee, and MacNeil’s complaint opened a police investigation into whether laws prohibiting the sale of honorary degrees had been broken.
According to the police, the police investigation would result in 136 people being questioned BBCand Blair himself would be questioned three times, albeit not with caution and “more as a witness than a suspect”.
Lord Levy, Labor’s chief fundraiser – dubbed ‘Lord Cashpoint’ by the tabloids – has been arrested twice on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert justice.
In 2007, police turned over a 216-page report on the scandal to prosecutors – who later announced they had insufficient evidence to charge anyone.
Cameron is accused of nepotism
David Cameron was accused of nepotism when he nominated nearly 50 close associates, political allies and conservative donors for honors as part of his resigning honors list.
In an unusual move, four sitting cabinet ministers were honored on Cameron’s list: Philip Hammond, who recently took on the role of Chancellor; Michael Fallon, the Secretary of Defense; David Lidington, Speaker of the House of Commons; and Patrick McLoughlin, leader of the Tory party.
“Typically, politicians can expect to be honored at the end of their term, not mid-career or when they have just assumed a new cabinet post.” The Sunday Times noted in a critical guide.
Knighthoods were also bestowed on two Tory party donors who made significant contributions to the Remain campaign, and Campaign Director Will Straw was awarded a CBE, prompting the newspaper to accuse Cameron of using honors as “consolation prizes”. and “Rewards for Failure”.
The newspapers also declined to award an OBE to Samantha Cameron’s stylist Isabel Spearman, as well as other close associates and assistants who worked with cabinet members. A Whitehall source commented The Sunday Times: “They must have looked at staff list #10 when compiling the nominations. I’m surprised Larry [the Downing Street cat] is not in.”
CBE repaired by Prince Charles’ aides
In another honors scandal, The Sunday Times said billionaire businessman Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz received a CBE from Prince Charles in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2016 after paying “tens of thousands of pounds to fixers with ties to the prince who had told him they could secure the honor.”
Mahfouz donated millions to restoration projects of interest to Charles, including Dumfries House and the Castle of Mey in Scotland. The Saudi national was keen to secure British citizenship or residency through a so-called ‘golden visa’ for investment and ‘had been advised that obtaining as many honorary posts and awards as possible would help his cause’ says the newspaper.
That is what is claimed Michael Fawcett, a former servant of the prince and an indispensable helper, helped coordinate Mahfuz’s application for British citizenship and even helped “upgrade” the proposed honor from OBE to CBE.
The Sunday Times claimed the leaked correspondence showed that Mahfouz’s aides “spoke explicitly about the transactional nature of the agreement” and that large sums of money were given to Charles’ charities to secure the honor.
According to leaked emails from William Bortrick, the owner of Burke’s Peerage and a paid adviser to Mahfouz, he told his peers that once Mahfouz is honored, “more money will flow.”
The allegations raise “serious questions about the behavior of those close to the prince,” the newspaper said, and will also prompt a “re-examination of the honor system and its openness to monetary influence.”
Stand up, Sir Gavin
The decision to honor Williamson, who was “responsible for the Covid exam fiasco” in 2020, was called “an insult to parents, teachers and children”. The times called.
The former education minister “played an essential role [Boris] Johnson’s successful leadership campaign and was viewed by some as a potentially dangerous opponent in the Tory backseat.
But the knighthood is also “contentious” as Williamson was sacked as defense secretary by Theresa May in 2019 after a Whitehall inquiry “concluded he leaked confidential information from a National Security Council meeting”.
Some Tory MPs have also been “scathing about knighthood”. Daily Mail reported “and suggested it was a reward for loyalty” to the Prime Minister. “It will do nothing to improve the public’s view of our discredited honor system,” said one MP. “He knows where the bodies are buried and Boris locked his shovel away.”
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/uk-news/954041/a-short-history-of-the-uks-honour-scandals A History of Honor Scandals in the United Kingdom