A banker's punishment: Sir Fred Goodwin is now just Fred
Fred Goodwin, the former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, was stripped of his knighthood for his role in the bank's 2008 crisis. But it's not clear hefty bonuses will get similar treatment.
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The British Bankers' Association, which represents 200 banks, declined to talk about the knighthood removal, as did Goodwin's former employers at RBS.Skip to next paragraph
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But politicians were happy to comment. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne told Sky News, "I think we've got a special case here of the Royal Bank of Scotland symbolizing everything that went wrong in the British economy over the last decade. Fred Goodwin was in charge and I think it's appropriate that he loses his knighthood."
But not all public figures supported Goodwin's dethronement. Former chancellor and fellow Scot Alistair Darling described it as "tawdry," while ex-motor racing champion Sir Jackie Stewart said the treatment of his friend had set a "dangerous" precedent and that others associated with the collapse should be punished too, such as the Financial Services Authority watchdog that permitted the takeovers that brought down the bank.
Whether or not Goodwin's punishment is fair, it might be just the most obvious sign that the attitude toward the financial industry is changing. Bankers used to regularly walk away with hefty bonus with little comment, but this week the current CEO at RBS, Stephen Hester, declined to take a £1 million ($1.6 million) bonus after coming under huge media and political pressure. Today Chairman Sir Philip Hampton acknowledged public resentment over executive salaries, saying banker pay had been "high for too long."
"It is right that Fred Goodwin lost his knighthood but I think it is only the start of the change we need in our boardrooms. We need to change the bonus culture and we need real responsibility right across the board," opposition leader Ed Miliband said.
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