Sir Douglas Graham and the Cult of Privilege

COMMENT: A shrewd reader of public thinking, John Key will be aware of the ongoing damage of keeping “Sir Douglas”. But he will be reluctant to cut the buttons from a died-in-the-wool National Party grandee.

COMMENT

Doug Graham’s decent path – now that legal challenges to the Lombard Four convictions are over – is to surrender his knighthood.

Further appeals are over because the Court of Appeal’s lengthy rejection of their claims of innocence is so detailed and precise in law it is highly unlikely the Supreme Court would go anywhere near granting leave for another go.

Instead of spending vast amounts of money on lawyers, the disgraced Lombard Four would do better to offer more by way of reparation to those investors who suffered loss at their hands.

Former justice minister Doug Graham will not want to suffer the further indignity of having the prime minister recommend it and the Queen remove his knighthood.

A shrewd reader of public thinking, John Key will be aware of the ongoing damage of keeping “Sir Douglas”.

But he will be reluctant to cut the buttons from a dyed-in-the-wool National Party grandee whose sins against mere investors the party will prefer to sweep under the rug.

Some say the knighthood should remain because it recognises what Doug Graham did primarily as minister of charge of Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

Others rightly point out that not all New Zealanders agree with the treaty grievance industry and the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in conscience money Doug Graham hurled at it.

For example, some people believe he should not have been knighted for his hand in what they call the “ whole discredited Treaty of Waitangi process”.

Some say his actions, and the actions of other ministers, have helped promote divisiveness – including the unreal expectations of radicalised Maori activists.

Be that as it may, knighthoods are bestowed on honourable folk who are supposed to also show integrity, decency, trust and dignity – not just in relation to past or present deeds but in how they conduct themselves in the future.

That’s where Doug Graham let the side down.

He became involved as chairman of a finance company – a money lender – which used a grand sounding name and went on the mislead investors about its own true financial soundness while greedily raking in other people’s cash.

The Lombard scandal reeks of the cult of privilege and the abuse of title.

Along with co-offenders Lawrie Bryant, Bill Jeffries and Michael Reeves, celebrity chairman Doug Graham touted himself as a man of soundness and position.

They all presented as men of privilege to be trusted.

But what did the Lombard Four collectively know about running a finance company and the safe stewardship of other people’s money?

Very little, and whether they cared about that remains a moot point.

There was a time when honourable men guilty of financial scandal were given a service revolver and told to go and do the decent thing.

With his knighthood, Douglas Arthur Montrose Graham accepted a new higher duty and responsibility.
 
It is time for him to exercise it.

janderson@nbr.co.nz

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