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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 March, 2003, 12:19 GMT
Businessman returns CBE over Iraq war
Grigor McClelland
Grigor McClelland was awarded the CBE in 1994
One of north-east England's leading businessman is handing back his CBE as a protest against the war on Iraq.

Grigor McClelland, former managing director of Laws Stores, Tyneside's biggest family-owned food store, took the stand against Tony Blair's decision to send in the troops.

The medal has been posted back to Number 10 Downing Street.

The 81-year-old founder of the Community Foundation, was awarded the honour in 1994 for his "charitable services to Tyne and Wear".

But Mr McClelland said even though it grieved him to give back something that held so many memories, he felt he no longer wanted to be a "Commander of the British Empire".

The former director of Manchester Business School and visiting professor at Durham University, said: "This is not a decision I have taken lightly.

'Breach of law'

"I was nominated for the award by my friends and colleagues at the Community Foundation.

"When I went to London to receive it, my wife Diana, who died three years ago, was by my side.

"But now that my country has joined an attack on Iraq in, what I believe, is a breach of international law, I no longer feel able to retain the honour given to me.

"I hope this will be seen as a statement of the very deep concerns I have.

A Newcastle Quaker, Mr McClelland was a conscientious objector and first saw service with the Friends Ambulance Unit in the Middle East, working as a stretcher bearer and ambulance driver.

This year the Community Foundation will be giving away 6m in grants to community projects in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.

'Enormous integrity'

Foundation director George Hepburn said: "Grigor put his name and reputation behind an untried, untested project and made it great.

"That is why we nominated him for the honour which he so rightly deserved.

"But he is a man of enormous integrity and a life-long pacifist and when he came in to tell us today that he was handing the honour back people kept coming in and shaking his hand."

Now living in Jesmond and soon to get married for a second time, Mr McClelland has four children, Andrew, Rosemary, Jennifer and Stephen.

He joining an anti-war demonstration at Newcastle's Gray's Monument on Thursday.

No-one from Downing Street would comment on Mr McClelland's decision.

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