Sunday 25 February 2018

Livingstone says he turned down offer of award in honours list

Ellen Branagh

KEN Livingstone was offered an award in the New Year Honours but turned it down, he has revealed.

The former Mayor of London said he turned down a Commander of the Order of the British Empire award for services to the Olympics because he does not think politicians should get honours. "I was offered a CBE," the 67-year-old revealed on his show on LBC Radio yesterday. "I don't believe politicians should get honours."

The New Year Honours were dominated by the 2012 Games, with Olympians, Paralympians and backroom staff behind the highly successful London 2012 recognised for their efforts.

Mr Livingstone is not the only high-profile name missing from the roll – Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, who masterminded the £27m (€33m) opening ceremony, is said to have turned down an honour.

Among those who did receive honours were Stella McCartney, who designed the uniforms worn by Britain's record-smashing Olympic team, and Scottish physicist Peter Higgs, who gave his name to the so-called "God particle".

While the list is particularly heavy with Britain's Olympic heroes, it also includes Star Wars actor Ewan McGregor, eccentric English singer Kate Bush, Roald Dahl illustrator Quentin Blake, and Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the royal aide who helped organise the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.

McCartney, the designer daughter of ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, was honoured with the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, in part for her work creating the skintight, red-white-and-blue uniforms worn by British athletes as they grabbed 65 medals during the 2012 London Games.

Prof Higgs's achievements, which made him a Companion of Honour, touch on the nature and the origins of the universe. The 83-year-old researcher's work in theoretical physics sought to explain what gives things weight.

He said it was while walking through the Scottish mountains that he hit upon the concept of what would later become known as the Higgs boson, an elusive subatomic particle that gives objects mass and combines with gravity to give them weight.

All of Britain's gold medallists from this year's games were on the list, with cyclist Bradley Wiggins and sailor Ben Ainslie honoured with knighthoods. Sebastian Coe, who masterminded the games as chairman of the London organising committee, was made a Companion of Honour.

Actor Ewan McGregor was awarded an OBE. Singer Kate Bush said she was delighted to be made a CBE. Other art- world honourees included artist Tracey Emin and Quentin Blake, whose spiky, exuberant illustrations are best known through the work of his collaborator Roald Dahl.

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie was made a CBE for her charity work. MI5 chief Jonathan Evans was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Bath.

Britain's honours are bestowed twice a year by the monarch, at New Year's and on her official birthday in June. Although the Queen does pick out some lesser honours herself, the vast majority of recipients are selected by government committees from nominations made by officials and members of the public.

In descending order, the honours are knighthoods, CBE, OBE, and MBE – Member of the Order of the British Empire.

More than 70 people from The North were honoured – including former Northern Ireland and Arsenal footballer Pat Rice, who was given an MBE.

Sunday Independent

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