Honours: Labour donor's knighthood defended by Downing St

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The Independent Online

The knighthood awarded to Gulam Noon, a big Labour donor, was defended yesterday by Downing Street.

The knighthood awarded to Gulam Noon, a big Labour donor, was defended yesterday by Downing Street.

Sir Gulam, the driving force behind a £50m Asian "ready meals" empire, has given £200,000 to Labour. But the Prime Minister's official spokesman fiercely rejected suggestions that the honour was influenced by the entrepreneur's financial backing.

"He has expanded his small family business into one of London's major companies and has made a significant contribution to the wider economy by promoting business and skills development," the spokesman said. He pointed out that the honour had been approved by an honours scrutiny committee, comprising the Labour peer Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, the former Tory foreign secretary Lord Hurd of Westwell and the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Thomson of Monifieth. "[Sir Gulam] has been honoured for what he has achieved," the spokesman said. "Were it to be the case that his nomination only went forward as a result of a donation to a party then the cross-party Honours Scrutiny Committee would have decided that was the case."

The outspoken Tory MP Nicholas Winterton is knighted, years after he was denied the honour by John Major because of his persistent criticism of the government.

Robin Young, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Trade and Industry, who next year marks his 30th year in the Civil Service, is knighted.

Alice Perkins, the wife of Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, is created a Companion of the Order of the Bath. A senior official in the Cabinet Office, she has served in a range of Whitehall departments since joining the Civil Service in 1971.

The former Labour minister Ted Rowlands, who retired from Parliament at the last election, is appointed CBE. He is recognised for his work with the History of Parliament Trust.

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