Sir Ron Brierley: The process to remove a knighthood, and who's previously had theirs removed

Within hours of Sir Ron Brierley pleading guilty to possessing child sexual abuse material, the Prime Minister had begun the process of stripping him of his knighthood. 

Jacinda Ardern has the power to advise the Queen to remove a knighthood if it is decided the individual's actions have damaged the honour system's reputation.

But she doesn't just give the Queen a quick ring.

Instead, according to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), the Secretary and Registrar of the Order needs to give the holder of the honour 30 days to respond to the proposed forfeiture with any comments they believe should be taken into account.

If the Prime Minister decides to go ahead, they then write to the Queen with the advice.

"Once The Queen has approved the proposal, the holder of the honour is notified and asked to return their insignia and warrant of appointment," DPMC says. "They may no longer use the post-nominal letters associated with the honour after their name. If the honour has a title associated with it, the person is no longer entitled to use the title (e.g. "Dame"or "Sir")."

It's rare for an honour to be forfeited.

Two that show up on the NZ Gazette website - which only has notices from 1993 onwards - are for Dr Morgan Fahey and Hugh Hamilton

Dr Fahey was in 2000 sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to 13 charges, including rape and sexual violation. The doctor, from Christchurch, was admitted to the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1977 for services to the community

Hamilton, the former Mayor of the Central Hawke's Bay District Council, was stripped of his Order of Merit in 2018. He was awarded the honour in 1997 for services to the community, but in 2014 found guilty of financial crimes. Hamilton was jailed for four years and nine months. 

According to reports from the time, Hamilton wasn't stripped of his honour until 2018 as the Government only then became aware of his conviction.

The April 10 1980 NZ Gazette shows that Albert Henry, the first Premier of the Cook Islands, was stripped of his OBE after being awarded it in 1974. The removal came after Henry was forced to resign from the top job for his role in a 1978 voting scandal. He was later convicted of electoral fraud. 

Brieley on Thursday admitted to three charges of possession of child sexual abuse materials. Fourteen other charges were withdrawn.

The multi-millionaire is well-known as a corporate raider and for founding R.A. Brierley Investments in March 1961. He began it with zero capital, but it would go on to become one of New Zealand's largest companies. At one point, it had 160,000 stakeholders, with stakes in companies like Air New Zealand.

He would also go onto lead Mercantile Investments, which became notorious for its takeovers in Australia. He stepped down from that role in June 2019, citing age and health issues.

He was knighted in 1988 for services to business management and the community.

Brierley will be back in court later this month.