A very small proportion of those who receive honours from the Queen subsequently bring disgrace upon themselves, and forfeit the distinctions that have been awarded to them.
Though the number forfeiting honours is not great, it is increasing, as an article published in The Times on April 6 showed. Its author, Jack Malvern, is the first person to research the issue thoroughly, penetrating the mystery that has hitherto shrouded it. He writes: ‘Last year nine people had honours revoked, marking the end of a decade in which a record 70 people had their honours “cancelled and annulled” ‘.
More people have lost honours as a result of child sex abuse than for any other reason. It accounted for 37 per cent of forfeitures, a cause of grave concern; fraud came next with 21 cent.
It took prolonged inquiry to bring these figures to light. The Cabinet Office, which has responsibility for honours within government, refuses to give any explanation when they are taken away. Yet when honours are awarded, the reasons are always published.
Alistair Lexden, who was consulted by the author of The Times article, is quoted in it as saying: ‘Secret disgrace is no disgrace at all. A person to whom an award is made receives public honour; its loss should be accompanied by public dishonour.’ It is disturbing to find that child sex offences are contributing so extensively to the revoking of honours. He will find an opportunity to raise this important issue in the Lords.