A CONTROVERSIAL former council boss has been stripped of his OBE by the UK’s honours authority after being expelled from his professional body, and fined thousands of pounds amid a row about a redundancy payment of almost £150,000.
The Scotsman has learned that the award handed to former East Lothian Council chief executive John Lindsay for services to local government has been “cancelled and annulled”, with his name erased from the list of those holding the honour.
Former RBS boss Fred Goodwin similarly lost his knighthood. Mr Lindsay sparked anger when he was reported to have claimed he was being treated worse than a US mass murderer after a decision to award himself a £149,000 golden handshake on his retirement was rescinded by the council.
The proposed payoff, made on the recommendation of the chief executive, saw Mr Lindsay kicked out of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) in 2010 and fined £7,000 for what the body said was a “breach of trust” towards taxpayers.
The OBE awarded to Mr Lindsay in 2005 has been removed following an investigation by the honours forfeiture committee, on behalf of the Queen, which received a complaint from a member of the public about the conduct of the retired council boss.
Honours such as an OBE, MBE or a knighthood are normally only removed if the holder is handed a jail sentence of more than three months or is expelled from their professional body.
The decision to take the OBE away from Mr Lindsay, who lives in exclusive Archerfield, East Lothian, was welcomed by MSPs and a councillor who opposed the £149,000 payoff originally approved by the authority in 2007.
SNP councillor Dave Berry said: “It would have been very uneven if he had been kicked out by his professional body and was then allowed to keep his OBE.
“John was a pretty good officer who worked hard for 35 years and he wasn’t incompetent, but the payment that was made was not done in the public interest. It was just one step too far.
“It’s difficult to think that it wasn’t greed, but I would have loved not to have had to deal with this. I regret it happened.” SNP MSP John Wilson, deputy convener of Holyrood’s economy committee, said: “I welcome the decision to remove Mr Lindsay’s honour and hope it sends out a warning to all those in receipt of honours about the sanctions they face if they abuse the public’s trust.”
Meanwhile, the UK’s Cabinet Office which has responsibility for honours, placed a notice in the London Gazette, about the withdrawal of Mr Lindsay’s OBE. It said: “The Queen has directed that the appointment of John Lindsay to be an officer of the civil decision of the most excellent Order of the British Empire dated 31 December 2005, shall be cancelled and annulled from the Register of the said order.”
Mr Lindsay was ordered to stay away from work in the run-up to his retirement in July 2007 following the row over his severance package. The former council chief allegedly said he was treated worse than the Virginia Tech mass murderer, who killed 32 people on 16 April, 2007. He declined to comment on the loss of his OBE.