Jimmy Savile’s knighthoods cannot be stripped

By Jenny Berg, Serena Doherty, Rosy Matheson and Lalage Wordsworth

The Conference of Bishops in England says it’s too late to strip Savile of Catholic Knighthood.

There have been calls for Jimmy Savile to be stripped of his papal knighthood following allegations of sexual abuse. However, bishops in England and Wales say they can’t because it expired with his death.

The Catholics Bishops’ Conference in England and Wales say that Sir Jimmy Savile would not have been awarded a papal knighthood if the allegations of sexual abuse had come to light earlier.

However, there is no process to posthumously remove a papal knighthood which dies along with the recipient.

Savile, a devout Catholic, was made Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great for his charity work by the pope in 1990, the same year he recieved an OBE  (Order of the British Empire).

Eileen Cole, a media officer with the Catholics Bishops’ Conference said, “All abuse is a tragedy and our paramount concern should always be for those who have suffered abuse.

“The allegations of abuse by Jimmy Savile are deeply shocking and need to be investigated by the police so there can be a resolution.

“Once the police have completed their investigations many aspects of his life may have to be reviewed.”

Likewise the Honours Forfeiture Committee cannot strip Savile of his OBE either.

A cabinet office spokesperson said:

“There are currently a number of police investigations underway into the allegations. The Order of the British Empire is a living Order and individuals cease to be a member when they die.

“An appointment as a Knight Bachelor would also cease on death. However, that doesn’t mean that the committee won’t consider the impact on the honours system of cases such as the one under discussion.”

However, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has suggested that the removal of Savile’s honour might be an option. He said:

“[The forfeiture committee is] not chaired or sat on by me but it is responsible for looking at honours and the removal of honours and obviously they have to do their job properly.”

Knighthoods can be removed from living members but it’s extremely rare. The last knight to be debased was Sir Anthony Blunt, whose knighthood was withdrawn in 1979 after he was exposed as a Soviet spy.

People in Brighton and Hove have mixed feelings about stripping Jimmy Savile of his knighthood:

David McConnell, 65, from Hove

“Yeah, absolutely but they’re meaningless anyway. I’m sure there are sirs who’ve done worse than he did.”

Sammy Strongheart, 30, from Brighton

“No, I think it’s against his rights to have anything stripped away.”

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