Sir no more: Former RBS chief Fred Goodwin loses knighthood

By Ian Dunt

Sir Fred Goodwin has been stripped of his knighthood, in a sign of the extent of public anger over bankers and the financial crisis.

The Forfeiture Committee decided the former RBS chief, known in the press as 'Fred the Shred', had brought the honours system into disrepute.

"The scale and severity of the impact of his actions as chief executive officer of RBS made this an exceptional case," a Cabinet Office statement read.

"In reaching this decision, it was recognised that widespread concern about Fred Goodwin's decisions meant that the retention of a knighthood for 'services to banking' could not be sustained."

The explanation for the decision mentioned that Financial Services Authority and the Treasury select committee agreed the collapse of RBS played a central role in triggering the 2008 financial crisis.

Prime minister David Cameron commented: "The FSA report into what went wrong at RBS made clear where the failures lay and who was responsible.

"The proper process has been followed and I think we've ended up with the right decision."

The Goodwin knighthood had become an embarrassment for the British political class in general, with both Labour and the Conservatives desperate to detach themselves from the remnants of a period in which they were desperate to praise Britain's bankers.

Mr Goodwin was given his honour for "services to banking" in June 2004, with the backing of Gordon Brown, then chancellor of the exchequer.

He will keep the bonuses he received, and possibly the moniker of Britain's most despised banker.

David Fleming, Unite national officer commented: "It is a token gesture to strip Fred Goodwin of his knighthood, but one which will be well-received by the thousands of workers who lost their jobs during his rule.”

Mr Goodwin took over RBS with an extremely aggressive expansion strategy between 2001 and 2008. By the time he left the bank had lost £24 billion. It then requested a bail out of £45 billion.

The development comes a day after current RBS chief executive Stephen Hester decided to turn down his bonus. Over the weekend, the bank's chairman, Sir Philip Hampton, turned down his bonus after a public backlash against massive bonuses in state-controlled banks.