Leading article: An alternative, more prestigious, honours list?

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What do Roald Dahl, Lucian Freud and JB Priestley have in common? They all turned down honours from the Queen, of course. Indeed, the newly released list of 277 people who declined a gong between 1951 and 1999 (and have since died) reveals them to be a thoroughly exalted crowd. A slew of top-notch talents including Francis Bacon, Evelyn Waugh and LS Lowry are there. As is Alfred Hitchcock, even if, having refused a CBE in 1962, he gave in and accepted a knighthood 18 years later. There is nothing wrong with refusing an honour, nor even with returning one to make a point (although the practice of turning one down and then publicising the fact must surely be frowned upon). In fact, with the Information Commission ruling that the details of such snubs can no longer be kept secret, admittance to the ranks of the refuseniks might prove more prestigious than inclusion on the honours list itself.

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