1976 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours

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Harold Wilson

The 1976 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours were announced on 27 May 1976 to mark the resignation of Prime Minister Harold Wilson.[1][2] The list of honours became known satirically as the "Lavender List".

Controversy[edit]

The list caused controversy as a number of recipients were wealthy businessmen whose principles were considered antipathetic to those held by the Labour Party at the time.

Roy Jenkins notes that Wilson's retirement "was disfigured by his, at best, eccentric resignation honours list, which gave peerages or knighthoods to some adventurous business gentlemen, several of whom were close neither to him nor to the Labour Party."[3]

One businessman on the list, Lord Kagan, was convicted of fraud in 1980; Sir Eric Miller committed suicide while under investigation for fraud in 1977. Another beneficiary was the buccaneering financier James Goldsmith. Nearly all of the other names on the list such as actor John Mills were, however, uncontroversial. Dismissing the notoriety of these two names, both of Wilson's academic biographers, Professor Ben Pimlott and Philip Ziegler, writing in the 1990s long after the purported events stress that there was never any question at the time or subsequently of financial impropriety in the drawing up of the list.

The origin of the name "Lavender List" derived from the claim made by former press secretary and journalist Joe Haines that the head of Wilson's political office, Lady Falkender, had written the original draft on lavender-coloured notepaper. No documentary evidence has been proferred to support this claim and Wilson and Falkender denied it. Joe Haines expressly denied any financial impropriety in the compilation of the list on national television in an interview on BBC's Panorama on 14 February 1977. In 2001 Joe Haines altered his allegations with an entirely new version of the "Lavender List". Lady Falkender sued Joe Haines for libel in 2007 over the statement that she was the author of the list. Many statements in the media were subject to litigation by both Wilson and Falkender during the 1970s, which later gave rise to a long complaint by Wilson published in the Times that his administration had been subject to an alleged smear campaign. Wilson's suspicions were later partially corroborated by former MI5 Assistant Director Peter Wright in his book Spycatcher, a book that was initially banned from publication in the UK.

According to a letter from Edith Summerskill published in The Times on 27 May 1977, the members of the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee "...were astounded when we read the list of proposed honours. We told the civil servant present that we could not approve of at least half of the list, and would he see that this was conveyed to the Prime Minister", and that "... it astonished us to find that, with one exception, the original list of recipients was published unchanged." But she comments that "we were in fact faced with a fait accompli which we had no power to upset."[4]

Political and Public Services List[edit]

The recipients of honours are displayed here as they were styled before their new honour, and arranged by honour.

Life Peer[edit]

Privy Councillor[edit]

Companion of Honour[edit]

Knighthood[edit]

Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)[edit]

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)[edit]

  • Miss Doreen Stainforth (Mrs. Clark), Broadcasting Officer, The Labour Party Information Department.
  • Donald Willgoose, Chief Executive and Town Clerk, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
  • Michael Edward Yarwood, Entertainer.

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)[edit]

  • Bess Hilda, Mrs. Church, Personal Secretary to Roy Jenkins, M.P.
  • Miss Mary Griffin, Private Secretary to the General Secretary of The Labour Party.
  • Arthur Thomas Gunns, lately Supervisor, Despatch Department, Labour party Headquarters.
  • William John Taylor, Meetings. Officer, Labour Party Headquarters.

British Empire Medal[edit]

Private Office List[edit]

Life Peer[edit]

Knighthood[edit]

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)[edit]

  • Fleet Chief Wren Steward (O) Dorothy Mary Gordon, Senior Steward at Chequers.
  • Miss Doreen Andrew, Formerly Secretary in the Political Office
  • Miss Peggy Patricia Field, Personal Secretary to Lady Wilson.
  • William Charles Housden, B.E.M., Personal Driver
  • Doris Molly, Mrs Knight, Assistant, Prime Minister's Office, No. 10 Downing Street.
  • Mavis Dorothy, Mrs MacDonald, Secretary in the Political Office
  • Thora, Mrs Pollard, Housekeeper

British Empire Medal[edit]

  • Charles Beveridge, Senior Messenger, No.10 Downing Street
  • Edith Margaret, Mrs Causer, Senior Cleaner, No.10 Downing Street
  • Robert Geoffrey Matthews, Police Constable, Metropolitan Police
  • Miss Doris May Richardson, Telephonist, No.10 Downing Street

Docudrama[edit]

Main article: The Lavender List

The Lavender List is a UK television docudrama broadcast on BBC Four in March 2006 based solely on the second version of events put forward by Joe Haines in 2001, events that he claimed led to the drafting of the 1976 Resignation Honours. The BBC was successfully sued for libel by Lady Falkender over the programme and in addition to a financial settlement the BBC agreed never to rebroadcast the programme.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • The Times, Thursday, May 27, 1976; pg. 2; Issue 59714; col B: "Sir Harold's resignation honours list in full".

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Times. 27 May 1976, p.2.
  2. ^ Official publication was in the The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46916. pp. 7823–7826. 1 June 1976. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
  3. ^ Roy Jenkins, ‘Wilson, (James) Harold, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx (1916–1995)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006 accessed 22 Feb 2008
  4. ^ The Times Friday, May 27, 1977; pg. 17; Issue 60014; col E.