David Cameron Criticised Over Honours List
David Cameron risks being accused of misuse of the honours system over claims he is looking to reward allies and party donors, a former sleaze watchdog has said.
Responding to the apparent leak of the former PM’s resignation honours list, Sir Alistair Graham said it would “add a bit of a nasty, tawdry gloss” to Mr Cameron’s failure to win the EU referendum.
The hard-hitting comments by the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life will fuel the controversy over reports Mr Cameron is pushing to recognise friends and personal aides.
Labour has also waded into the row with the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson arguing Mr Cameron’s bid to reward his allies presented the worst of the “old boy’s network”.
It follows reports in The Sunday Times that Mr Cameron had recommended knighthoods for four pro-EU cabinet colleagues: Philip Hammond, Michael Fallon, Patrick McLoughlin, and David Lidington.
He has also requested a companion of honour award for former chancellor George Osborne, it has been claimed.
It has been reported the head of the failed pro-Remain campaign Will Straw has been put forward for a CBE, and more than 20 Downing St staff were proposed for awards.
Those said to be in the running for an OBE include Isabel Spearman, who helped Samantha Cameron with her diary and outfits for various engagements.
It was also claimed Mr Cameron recommended knighthoods for major Tory donors Ian Taylor and Andrew Cook.
Speaking to Sky News, Sir Alistair said: “I think it will be highly controversial.
“The sheer scale of the list slightly beggars belief. Also the range.”
On the reported inclusion of party donors on the list, he said: “I think there’s a real danger that people will perceive that this is a major misuse of the honours system.”
He added: “I think for anybody receiving a national honour there should be some rigour to the system.
“It shouldn’t be at the whim of one person.
“For most people who receive honours they have gone through a fairly rigorous, well developed committee system.
“For one person to be able to distribute such a large number of honours, if that turns out to be the case, I think does undermine trust in the system and devalues it perhaps for everybody else who has received honours.”
Sir Alistair urged a change to the convention to allow for proper scrutiny of honours.
He went on: “These things do stay in the public memory.
“Given he’s seen to have resigned because of his failure to win the EU referendum this will add a bit of a nasty tawdry gloss on what is seen to be failure.
“I think he should think again.”
Sir Alistair said: “The sort of scale that has been suggested might be applied is totally inappropriate and will be seen by a very large number of people as a misuse of the honours system and will undoubtedly affect how people perceive him as Prime minister and his record as prime minister.”