Saturday, February 25, 2012

'SIR' DOUGLAS GRAHAM

I note there has been a predictable Pavlovian response following the conviction of the 'Lombard Four' for Douglas Graham to be stripped of his Knighthood. The matter is certainly worthy of debate.

But it would be unfair to focus entirely on Graham just because he has a Knighthood. Graham also enjoys the Right Honourable (Rt Hon) honorific while Bill Jeffries (also one of the four) is an Honourable (Hon) from his time as Minister of Justice in the fourth Labour Government.

While it is clear that what was bestowed can also be taken away, New Zealand does not have a track record of stripping awards off people. I think back to Sir Graham Latimer convicted of tax evasion; Hon Taito Philip Field, imprisoned for corruption; Hon Roger McClay, QSO, convicted of uttering; there are others.

I guess there will be those who would argue that were Government to act unilaterally to strip people found guilty of 'serious' crimes of their honours and awards it would constitute double jeopardy. On balance I would have to disagree. There is a certain status afforded the holders of honours and awards. Those that bring the system into disrepute do not deserve that status.

In the Lombard case both Graham and Jeffries were high profile lawyers. We had a right to expect they were fully conversant with their responsibilities as Directors. While clearly they were 'names' they were not there just to eat their lunch and to collect their Directors Fees. They had a responsibility to ensure the prospectus they signed-off on was accurate in every respect. Directors have a responsibility not just to the Company but also to Mr & Mrs Joe Investor.

And yes, those firms were operating in a under regulated equivalent of the wild west to which the then Government was happy to turn a blind eye. But try telling that to the Mum and Dad investors some of whom lost their life savings. And yes, the old adage that 'higher the return, higher the risk' stands true. But that does not absolve the Directors of their responsibilities.

So, where am I headed. IMHO there is a subtle difference between a Royal Honour and the Rt Hon/Hon honorific. I would suggest a two level approach.

In the case of a person awarded either a Rt Hon or Hon honorific they should automatically forfeit the award on being convicted of a crime that provides for a term of imprisonment (awarded or not).

In the case of a person holding a Royal Honour and convicted of a crime that provides for a term of imprisonment (awarded or not) the protocol should be that they offer up the award for a final determination by the Government on a case by case basis. That ensures the award is put on the line while providing an 'out' should the circumstances so dictate in which case the Government would have to defend its decision. Above all it ensures the integrity of the awards system and does not cheapen the honour held by others.

That's my view anyway. Looking forward to the debate.

p.s. I declare my position as the holder of a Royal Honour.

14 comments:

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Hmmmmmmmmm.

I'm not sure I'd want to be the PM of the day when asked to determine if an Hon bad bastard should be defrockd.

I'd need to have at least a 20% favorable margin in the opinion polls and even then would think twice about clemency within twelve months of an election.

I think the public shaming for these people is infinitely greater than it is for others and that is sufficient.

Judge Holden said...

"there will be those who would argue that were Government to act unilaterally to strip people found guilty of 'serious' crimes of their honours and awards it would constitute double jeopardy."

Only a retard would argue that, given what double jeopardy actually is. Maybe you should look it up.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Only a troll would come in to someone else's blog and call the blog host a 'retard.'

No wonder this one is permanently locked out at my place.

Judge Holden said...

Read what I wrote Adolt. Where did I call him a retard? You're a retard, however. That's well established.

JC said...

I would want to see the Judge's summary at the sentencing before making any such decision.

JC

The Veteran said...

Judge H ... I am well aware what constitutes double jeopardy. It appears you may not.

Double jeopardy is a procedural defence that forbids a person from being tried again on the same (or similar) charge following a legitimate conviction or acquittal.

All I am saying is that it could be argued that stripping a person of an honour or award constitutes a second attempt to punish ... but I made it clear that I did not buy into that.

Perhaps you might wish to debate the substance of my argument rather than indulge in semantics.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

You must use simple words when dealing with Holden, Vet.

He thinks 'semantics' are love affairs indulged in my nautical people.

Judge Holden said...

"I am well aware what constitutes double jeopardy..."

Apparently not, as you just did a cut and paste from Wikipedia''s definition of it, but however.

"it could be argued that stripping a person of an honour or award constitutes a second attempt to punish..."

That wouldn't be double jeopardy now would it (using the wikipedia definition and all)? Where's the second prosecution? Anyway I take it you don't think that stripping ex-prisoners of their right to vote is "double jeopardy"? Or do you apply one set of principles to rich National Party crooks and another to everyone else?

The Veteran said...

Gueez wept Judge ... you are starting to really piss me off. Yes, I used the Wiki post but that was in deference to what I suspect is your limited ability to understand the big picture.

For your info I have also discussed the matter with a lawyer friend of mine and he commented that some in the profession might be prepared to argue the DJ issue (I suspect he was referring to some second rate, bleeding heart, civil libertarian type so beloved by your lot).

But back to the main point. Have you anything constructive to add to the debate because otherwise you can f**k off my blog.

Judge Holden said...

So to summarise:

It's ok to deny ex-prisoners the right to vote, but stripping honours from convicted National Party crooks is a very tricky issue which needs to be looked at on a "case by case" basis, as it might be double jeopardy even if it plainly isn't.

What principles are you applying here?

The Veteran said...

Judge ... it was you who raised the prisoner issue not me. Separate issue completely and one that would require legislative change. What I propose doesn't.

And for the record can I repeat again s l o w l y so even you might understand it ...

1. In respect of Rt Hons and Hons I believe that in the event of a person being convicted of a crime which provides for a term of imprisonment of 12 months of greater (whether or not awarded) the honorific should be forfeited automatically.

2. In respect of Royal Honours, a person being convicted of a crime which provides for a term of imprisionment of 12 months or greater, that person should be required to offer that honour up for reconsideration.

Why that instead of automatic forfeiture? Well, I can think of cases of manslaughter (for instance) where there were quite extenuating circumstances.

Your reference to 'National Party crooks' is plain stupid. Crooks cover the whole political spectrum.
One might argue the whole Labour Party is crooked given they stole $500,000 from the taxpayer to fund their election campaign and then passed retrospective validating legislation ... but I won't go there because that would detract from my thesis.

So, for the record, I assume you agree with my position re (1) and for (2) you want automatic forfeiture. Pity you didn't focus on that when we might have enjoyed a more constructive debate.

sigh

Anonymous said...

Vet, I am also a recipient of a Royal Honour -military. If per chance and god forbid I was convicted of a criminal charge, my honour would be winging its way back to Buckingham Palace the day after the conviction. You are obviously a kind and compassionate man in trying find a compromise to this issue recognising the previous good work of Graham and Jefferies.
I am less charitable. Both went into into Lombard -eyes wide open - or should have, not realising they were chosen for their name not any commercial skills they had. How arrogant of the pair of them. But I guess the money offered was too good to miss. Just think back to your Army days and Courts Marshall's and an equivalent crimes. Stripped of rank, pension honours --.
These two should should be stripped of all honours. By their actions I am surprised they were not charged as being accessories to theft- from deposit holders.

Anonymous said...

Best to get rid of these ridiculous British honours altogether. Giving an NZer a medieval title in this day and age is patently silly. I'm all for keeping the Monarchy though because it does work in that we don't have go through the presidential thing. I mean who would be our equivalents of the present loony republican wannabes.

WAKE UP said...

David Bellamy, Sir Doug Graham, Colin Meads, Richard Long, Mike King, Michael Jones, Stacey Jones -and now Kevin Milne...

What we actually need is a law awarding a mandatory lobotomy to any idiot who takes any notice of "celebrity" endorsements.