King Charles III has cancelled disgraced arts patron James Wallace’s knighthood.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced the monarch had approved the move to strip the honour during his post-Cabinet press conference this afternoon.
“I’ve had formal notification from King Charles that he has approved the cancellation of James Wallace’s knighthood. I’ve written to James Wallace to advise him accordingly,” Hipkins told journalists.
“The Government formally requested that the King cancel Mr Wallace’s appointment as a knight companion of the New Zealand order of merit back in June. James Wallace was found guilty and imprisoned for serious crimes and it is totally inappropriate for him to hold any honour.
“He can no longer use the title of Sir or KNZM, and has been asked to return his warrant of appointment and his honours insignia.”
Wallace, who had an estimated net worth of about $170 million, was found guilty of indecently assaulting three men victims in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016. The Government started the process of stripping his knighthood in June when his name suppression lapsed, several years after first being charged in 2017.
The 85-year-old is serving a prison sentence of two years and four months after being convicted of the indecent assaults at his Auckland mansion Rannoch and twice attempting to pervert the course of justice.
His legal appeals have been dismissed despite his constant denials and claims of a blackmailing syndicate.
The philanthropist’s name suppression order, which has been constantly opposed by the Herald and Stuff, lapsed with a Supreme Court judgment on June 28.
Many of New Zealand’s leading institutions have distanced themselves from Wallace, who was one of the country’s biggest backers of the arts, which led to him being knighted for his services in 2011.
The Herald on Sunday also earlier revealed Wallace had received 89 letters of support for his sentencing from some of New Zealand’s biggest names in film, art and classical music.
Wallace’s victims, including writer Dom Shaheen and musician and Dunedin bar owner Dudley Benson, waived their right to automatic name suppression to speak out against their attacker.
“The extent of his denial, his efforts to keep his convictions secret, did not surprise me,” Shaheen said. “It was in keeping with the man who attacked me that night [in the early 2000s].”
Benson, who was assaulted at Rannoch in 2008, said Wallace had “been enabled by the complicity of the NZ arts world”.
Despite being sentenced to prison, however, Wallace was released on bail to his Epsom home pending his appeals, which were dismissed by the Court of Appeal earlier this year.
Wallace was ordered to report to the Department of Corrections at Mount Eden Prison on February 21.
Throughout his life, Wallace has funded some of New Zealand’s most celebrated arts and film ventures. He began collecting art - now worth about $50m as the James Wallace Arts Trust Collection - in the 1960s and loaned many works for public viewing.
The Wallace Arts Centre at the Pah Homestead, owned by Auckland Council, was also used as a public art gallery housing the trust’s collection.
Wallace has been a founding patron or funder of New Zealand Opera, the Auckland Theatre Company, the Royal NZ Ballet and the ASB Waterfront Theatre - home to the Auckland Theatre Company.
Wallace, who made his fortune through a variety of business interests, most notably a meat processing plant in Waitoa, has estimated he and the trust spend about $2m per year on the arts.
The Court of Appeal also earlier released its decision declining suppression for Rannoch’s house manager Mustafa Erinc Yikar, who was found guilty and convicted alongside Wallace for attempting to bribe dancer and victim Roymata Holmes in what became known as the ‘Gold Coast plot’ in May 2017.
The court said his efforts had the hallmarks of a “desperate attempt to again frustrate the right of the public to know of his and Sir James’ convictions”.
Entertainer Mika X, also known as Mika Haka, pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and was sentenced to 11 months’ home detention.
The writer and director of the award-winning short film Gurl admitted he tried to dissuade Holmes during a meeting in April 2017 and as part of the Gold Coast scheme.
Sam Hurley is a news director and senior reporter. He joined the Herald in 2017 and has previously worked for 1News and Hawke’s Bay Today. He has been investigating Sir James Wallace since 2018.
Derek Cheng is a senior journalist for the Herald and a former Deputy Political Editor, whose stints in the press gallery in Parliament covered parts of the Helen Clark, John Key and Jacinda Ardern governments.