Calls for Sir Fred Goodwin to be stripped of his knighthood are intensifying, with Labour leader Ed Miliband becoming the latest political figure to suggest his honour should be revoked.
Sir Fred was knighted for his “services to banking” in 2004, but Miliband told the Daily Mail it was “clearly wrong” for his party to recommend him. Prime minister David Cameron is thought to be “sympathetic” to the idea of removing the award from Sir Fred.
The former RBS chief was roundly criticised for his role in the collapse of RBS. The case will now be reviewed by the Honours Forfeiture Committee, which consists of some of the country’s highest civil servants.
Honours are usually only reviewed by the committee when the recipient has been struck off or censured by a professional group for failings relating to the granting of the honour, or if the individual has been jailed for more than three months.
Speaking to the Mail, Miliband said: “It was clearly wrong for him to be given a knighthood, knowing what we know now about the damage he caused not just to RBS but to hard-pressed ordinary families up and down Britain who are now paying the price of his failure.
“It’s right that it should be revoked. There is a widespread recognition of the damage Fred Goodwin caused – and I think the privilege of a knighthood is a privilege you should only continue to enjoy if you haven’t done such damage to the British economy.”
Miliband went on to say there was little sympathy for Sir Fred because he had failed to take the blame for the bank’s collapse or show any “great remorse”.
The Labour leader added: “This was somebody who basically said, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong, this is everybody else’s fault’. That’s totally unacceptable. For a lot of people it has come to symbolise the failure of the banking industry to wake up to what has happened.”
Cameron recommended the committee looks at a report into the failures at RBS carried out by the Financial Services Authority.
Sir Fred’s actions will be examined by cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood and other civil servants, according to Whitehall sources, but the shamed banker is unlikely to appear before the committee in person.
Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor who served as an adviser to Gordon Brown when Sir Fred was knighted, said there would be “no complaints from Labour” if his honour was revoked.
Balls said: “At no point did I play any role at all in any way in any decisions about any honours at all, and that would include Fred Goodwin’s.”