Disgraced millionaire Ron Brierley has surrendered his knighthood.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this afternoon revealed that Brierley, who plead guilty to possession of child sexual abuse material, has relinquished his knighthood.
She said that if Brierley had not voluntarily relinquished the title, it would have been stripped from him.
Brierley was knighted for services to business in 1988 – he was estimated to be worth $220 million.
Speaking to media this afternoon, Ardern said no matter someone’s history, if they possess images which portray children being abused that “undoubtedly completely rewrites your history. Undoubtedly.”
Brierley wrote to the Clerk of the Executive Council – the group responsible for knighthoods, damehoods and other official honours – to tender his resignation as a Knight Bachelor.
Queen advised of forfeiture
“The Queen has been informed,” Ardern said.
This means he’s no longer allowed to use the title of “Sir” and he has been asked to return his insignia.
Officials wrote to Brierley on April 6, telling him he had 30 days to provide any information that he considered relevant before the Prime Minister made her decision.
Ardern said after he was notified the process was underway, Brierley resigned the title.
“But I’m very clear, had he had not done so it would have been removed.”
Last month, in an Australian court, Brierley pleaded guilty to three charges of possessing child sexual abuse material.
His barrister admitted he possessed “some images” but the exact figure is “in dispute”.
According to The Guardian, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced.
He is 84 years old.
“I think it’s a sad day for the children of New Zealand and, indeed, the world when someone is found guilty of possessing such horrendous images,” Ardern said.
She added that it was only right that there are “significant consequences” for that.
“As a country, she said, New Zealand has to reject anyone who thinks that this was okay.
Wellington College, where Brierley attended high school, severed its ties with the disgraced businessman after his guilty plea.
Although the process of stripping a knighthood, or damehood, is not unprecedented, it does not happen often.
Albert Henry, the first Premier of the Cook Islands, lost his knighthood after he was forced to resign in a 1978 voting scandal for which he was later convicted of fraud.
And Hugh Hamilton and Morgan Faheym had their honours removed as well.
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