Downing Street REFUSES to back calls for Sir Philip Green to be stripped of his knighthood as ‘sixth victim’ comes forward claiming to have seen ‘grotesque bullying’
-MPs have called for Sir Philip Green to be stripped of knighthood
-But No. 10 spokesman said it was decision for Honours Forfeiture Committee
-Another woman has come forward alleging bullying against Sir Philip Green
-Labour MP Frank Field said she approached him ‘for parliamentary protection’
-Billionaire, 66, was named as businessman who was using gagging orders to silence employees over accusations of racism and sexual harassment
Theresa May has today refused to back calls from MPs for Sir Philip Green to lose his knighthood after it was revealed allegations of bullying, sexual harassment and racism were made against him.
The billionaire was named as the tycoon who obtained an injunction at the Court of Appeal to stop the press reporting accusations from female former employees.
But Lord Hain yesterday used parliamentary privilege to name him in the House of Lords, causing outrage and widespread criticism.
Sir Philip has vehemently denied allegations of unlawful sexual and racist behaviour and refused to confirm if he was the businessman behind a £500,000 injunction.
Yet Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said: “I find it difficult to see how he could credibly hold on to an honour in these circumstances.”
So how would the process to strip his knighthood actually work?
Here is an explanation of the mysterious and mystifying system.
How is a knighthood stripped?
Stripping a knighthood is a complex process decided by the independent, but highly secretive, Forfeiture Committee.
It’s existed for 50 years and has five members, one of whom is chairman Sir Jonathan Stephens – a top civil servant who is in charge of the whole honours system.
It also includes the Treasury Solicitor and the head of the original honours committee that recommended Sir Philip be knighted in 2006 for services to the retail industry.
The other two members are kept secret but are drawn from other honours committee members who have relevant experience.
Who can apply to strip Sir Philip’s knighthood?
To start the process a complaint has to be made to the separate Honours and Appointments Secretariat, a group of Cabinet Office civil servants.
Officials say a member of the public’s complaint is treated with the same weight as an MP’s.
The Secretariat compiles the evidence for the Forfeiture Committee to make its decision.
Does the Queen get to decide?
The Queen is nothing to do with making the decision, but does have to give her approval before it can be put into action.
Once a decision is made, it is passed to the Prime Minister and then the Queen for sign-off. In practice this would be a rubber stamp.
Is the committee already meeting?
We don’t know, and Downing Street refused to say.
Forfeiture Committee meetings are not announced or advertised – it doesn’t meet on a schedule but “as required”.
Only the final decision is publicly announced, and even then it only appears in the – these days quite obscure – London Gazette.
The whole process can, however, move very quickly once it’s up and running.
Haven’t I heard all this before?
Yes. MPs voted unanimously in October 2016 for a bid to strip Sir Philip Green of his knighthood over the collapse of BHS, which left a huge pensions black hole.
Not a single MP opposed the historic motion on the tycoon – which was thought to be one of the first ever of its kind.
In a lively debate lasting more than two hours MPs branded Sir Philip a “billionaire spiv” who had “shamed British capitalism”.
Business committee chief Iain Wright said the retail king “took the rings from BHS’s fingers” before selling the High Street giant for £1.
But the motion in the House of Commons was only advisory and in the end, it is up to the committee whether to take action.
So what do you think?
Tell us in the comments.