Former British banker gets knighthood revoked

A man looks at knight's armor at the annual Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory on January 20, 2012 in New York City. What would it take for someone to lose their knight title?

Adriene Hill: Now on to the U.K. where a former investment banker has had his knighthood revoked. Sir Fred Goodwin -- or, now, Mr. Fred Goodwin -- led the Royal Bank of Scotland when it nearly collapsed during the financial crisis in 2008. He joins an inglorious list of people who've had their knighthood taken away by the queen.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard has our story now from London.


Stephen Beard: Bloodstained dictators like Robert Mugabe, Benito Mussolini, and Nicolae Ceausescu have also been stripped of honors conferred by the British Crown. Goodwin got his knighthood for services to banking. He's losing it because his bank had to be bailed out by the British government with $70 billion. Goodwin's demotion seems popular with the people.

But Simon Walker, a spokesman for Company Directors, says it was unconstitutional.

Simon Walker: There's a well established practice where if people are convicted of a criminal offence they lose the honors they've been granted. That's historic and is appropriate. To do it because you don't approve of someone I think politicizes the whole honours system

Other critics ask: when will this witch hunt against bankers end? There are numerous other financiers with knighthoods that had a hand in the crisis. And what about the man who received his honorary knighthood for services to central banking -- former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan?

In London, I'm Stephen Beard for marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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