Sir Ron Brierley Must Be Stripped Of Knighthood
Today’s guilty plea in Sydney by New Zealand-born businessman Sir Ron Brierley, to charges of possessing child sex abuse material, should pave the way for the former high-flyer to be stripped of his knighthood, says a long-time campaigner and law reformer on such crimes.
Stop Demand founder and barrister Denise Ritchie, MNZM, said that given today’s guilty plea the process should be relatively straightforward.
According to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, an honours award can be removed on the advice of the Prime Minister and with the approval of the Queen. Grounds for doing so include, but are not limited to, “situations where the holder of an honour is sentenced to more than three months in prison and the offence involved disgraceful conduct such that public opinion would consider it wrong for the offender to hold a Royal honour (bringing the honours system into disrepute)”.
While Mr Brierley will be sentenced on April 30, Stop Demand says the criteria has been met to the extent that there should be no reason for the process not to begin immediately.
According to documents before the Court, the child sex abuse victims were aged between two and 15 years of age. Ritchie says, “Young lives have been irreparably damaged as a result of this predator’s behaviour. This is an abhorrent trade in the rape and molestation of children that is fuelled by male demand. It should be denounced in the strongest terms.”
The process for removal, known as ‘forfeiture’, would require Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to initiate the procedure, instructing the Secretary and Registrar of the Order to write to Mr Brierley to advise him that forfeiture is being considered. Mr Brierley would have 30 days to respond, if he believes mitigating factors should be taken into account. If Prime Minister Ardern proceeds with recommending forfeiture of the honour, she is required to write to The Queen advising her to cancel Mr Brierley’s appointment to the Order. Upon approval by the Queen, Mr Brierley will be notified and asked to return his insignia and warrant of appointment. He may no longer use the title Sir.
Stop Demand says the better option would be for Mr Brierley to voluntarily resign from his Order, return his insignia and warrant of appointment and ask that his name be removed from the Honours lists. In such a case the Queen would be informed, with no further action needed.