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.