The Honours System

Written evidence submitted by Sir Paul Ruddock (HS 05)

Thank you for inviting me to submit my views about making the honours system more transparent, and whether the reasons for awarding the most senior honours should be made public.


I was awarded a Knighthood for Services to the Arts in the 2012 New Year’s Honours List. I have been involved with philanthropic work in the UK for over 20 years. I believe that philanthropy is about four things: giving your time, giving your skills, using your contacts for the benefit of the charity, and giving money.

I have also been a regular donor to the Conservative Party over the last nine years. In my professional life, I am the co-founder and CEO of an alternative investment management firm, Lansdowne Partners Ltd.

The award of my knighthood received some media attention during the New Year period. In my opinion, increased transparency for the awarding of honours may facilitate a greater understanding and appreciation of why honours have been made.

Increasing published information

I would recommend that more information is included in the New Year Honours List to explain the reasons as to why individuals are being honoured. In my own case, specific details of my contribution to cultural institutions in the UK may have served to dispel the notion that the award was related to political donations. Fundamentally, the honours system serves a purpose – to recognise individuals for their significant contributions to the society of this country. The more open and transparent the system is as to why these honours are granted, the greater the system will be respected and valued.

Supplementary information

For the reference of the Committee, my wife and I have been contributors to over 20 cultural and artistic  institutions and charities including the V ictoria & A lbert Museum, the British Museum, the Donmar Warehouse, the Courtauld Institute for Art, Mousetrap Theatre Projects, the National Trust, and  a new Performing Arts Centre at King Edward’s School, Birmingham.

I have been particularly involved with the following institutions:

1) Victoria and Albert Museum:

I have been closely involved with the V&A for nearly twenty years, both financially and through participation on various museum committees.  I have been a Trustee of the Museum since 2002 and was appointed Chairman of the Board of Trustees by the Prime Minister in 2007. I was re-appointed for a second term in November 2011.

I have assisted with some of the most significant and successful fundraising projects the museum has undertaken in recent years. Over the last twelve years the Museum has raised £130 million for the renovation and redisplay of its galleries and collections.

I have served on many V&A committees including the British Galleries Committee and as Chair of the Trustees’ Finance and Development Committees. In addition to chairing the Museum’s Board I also currently Chair the Gilbert Trust for the Arts and donated significantly to the renovation of the museum’s Medieval & Renaissance Galleries. In the ten years that I have been a trustee and Chair of the V&A, attendance at the Museum has increased to 2.9 million annual visitors, the highest in the museum’s 155 year history (in 2000 the attendance was only 829,000). This makes it the 14th most visited art museum in the world. Within the UK it has consistently been ranked amongst the top 10 most visited tourist attractions. The Museum has been transformed from ‘the nation’s attic’ to one of the most vibrant and successful museums in the world.

2) British Museum:

I have supported the British Museum by donating funds to restore the Later Medieval Gallery which includes the iconic Lewis Chess set. The renovated Gallery opened in 2009 to huge critical acclaim. I am also donating to the renovation of the early Medieval Galleries which include the Sutton Hoo treasure and which are due to open in late 2013.

3) Courtauld Institute for Art:

I have been a long term supporter and am funding research projects at the Institute, which is the leading Art History university in the world.

April 2012

Prepared 20th June 2012