Simon Fraser, the 11th Lord Lovat, was the last man in Britain to be executed by beheading. Fraser was in every respect a thoroughly disreputable character.
He was a rapist and a serial traitor against both sides for the Jacobites and anti-Jacobites, and one of the kinder tributes said “he deserved, if practicable, to have been hanged five several times, in five different places, and upon five different accounts at least.” In fact the demand to see the old fellah’s (he was 80 at the time) head roll at Tower Hill proved so popular that a special viewing scaffold was built for spectators, which unfortunately collapsed and led to 20 spectators joining Fraser in death.
Times were hard.
These days they are less harsh. Fred Goodwin, a City banker who, according to the Evening Standard, was ”a corporate Attila”, having gained a reputation in the City for being a fearsome outsider – being Scottish, and not educated at a public school or at Oxbridge (God, that last bit must have hurt them) has just had his Knighthood taken off him by Maggie Windsor.
Now, I’m not one to say he shouldn’t be stripped of his honours. In fact to me stripping the wretch, tarring and feathering and everything else short of a trip to Tower Hill doesn’t seem too bad an idea. And given the chance I’d strip them all of their pompous honours. But actually, Goodwin hasn’t been prosecuted, nor even struck off by his professional body.
What about that lying toerag Jeffrey Archer. Despite the fact that he was detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure after lying under oath in Her Majesty’s courts, he appears to still be allowed to wonder around with the title of Lord, and his fragrant wife Mary is a Lady too.
Lord Hannigfield and Lord Taylor of Warwick did porridge for fraudulently claiming taxpayers money, and on his release Taylor even had the nerve to say he still thought he could play a valuable role in making the laws he himself had been unable to obey. Hanningfield has been told he can go back in when he has paid his fiddled expenses back, and Taylor was given a 12-month suspension from the Lords.
Anthony Blunt and Roger Casement were stripped of their honours, (in Casement’s case it was just before he was shot so I suspect taking away his gong was the least of his worries) but again, they had broken the law – big style. But if we don’t actually need a conviction to start stripping them of their honours, don’t let’s stop with ‘Fred the Shred’… I’m sure there’s a whole host of disreputable buggers we could start sorting out.