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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - LONDON - Britain's traditional New Years Honors faced criticism Saturday after they included two prominent but controversial figures from politics and the legal profession.
Queen Elizabeth II's annual list unveiled late Friday gave a damehood to Alison Saunders, a former director of public prosecutions who was forced to quit the role last year following several scandals.
They included overseeing the collapse of dozens of rape trials due to evidence disclosure problems, and accusations of mishandling other sex crime cases.
Criminal lawyer Daniel Janner led the backlash, arguing it was "an appalling honor which brings the honors system into disrepute".
But Alison defended her award, telling The Times newspaper that it recognized her "30 years of public service".
Meanwhile, the honors list saw ex-Conservative Party leader Ian Duncan Smith knighted, despite being behind welfare reforms heavily criticized as unduly harsh on benefit claimants.
Opposition Labour lawmaker Lisa Nandy branded the recognition "disgraceful" and said it appeared "to reward a legacy of cruelty and failure".
The queen's New Year Honors recognize the achievements and contributions of a range of people across Britain, including a minority from the worlds of showbiz, sport and politics.
An honors committee -- comprising senior civil servants and people independent of government -- recommend who to award, after sifting through nominations vetted by various government departments.
The prime minister then signs off on the choices, before the queen awards the honor at ceremonies during the year.
Overall, 1,097 names were on the list for 2020, nearly two-thirds of whom have undertaken outstanding work in or for their local community.
Among the household names recognized this year were British-born Australian entertainer Olivia Newton-John, who found worldwide fame in the hit movie "Grease", and Oscar-winning Hollywood directors Sam Mendes and Steve McQueen.
English cricketing heroes Joe Root and Ben Stokes also received awards following the country's first Cricket World Cup victory last summer. -AFP
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