Home » ‘Disgusted to be British’: Katharine Hamnett bins medal over UK role in Gaza

‘Disgusted to be British’: Katharine Hamnett bins medal over UK role in Gaza

Fashion designer Katharine Hamnett has thrown her CBE in the dustbin, declaring that she is “disgusted to be British, for our role in genocide in Gaza”. 

Hamnett, 76, posted a video on her Instagram account in which she walks out of her house and throws the award in the bin in protest at Britain’s response to Israel’s assault on Gaza, which has seen almost 30,000 Palestinians killed and vast swathes of the coastal enclave razed to the ground.

Wearing a black t-shirt with the slogan “Disgusted to be British” on it, the designer tells the camera: “I’m disgusted to be British for our role in genocide in Gaza. This is my CBE. It belongs in the dustbin with Sunak and Starmer.”

She then tells viewers to visit the website TheyWorkForYou, a parliamentary monitoring site that records the way British members of parliament vote.

“Go to this site… find your MP and tell them you’ll never vote for them again unless they support a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.”

Stay informed with MEE’s newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis,
starting with Turkey Unpacked

Hamnett was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2011. 

Working since the 1970s, Hamnett is one of Britain’s best known fashion designers, responsible for creating iconic clothing worn by popstars and models including George Michael, Naomi Campbell and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

She is also well known for her activism, lobbying against the use of sweatshops, meeting Margaret Thatcher wearing a t-shirt that protested the presence of US missiles on British soil and sending models out onto the runway in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq wearing t-shirts that read, “Stop war, Blair out.” 

She has worked with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and produced t-shirts with the slogans, “Make Trade Fair”, “Save the Future” and “Women Against Wars”. 

Hamnett has voiced her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on her Instagram account, and has encouraged people never to vote for any British politician who voted against a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Her “Disgusted to be British” t-shirt lists a series of reasons on the back: “Complicity in genocide, ending aid to Gaza, appalling treatment of refugees, mixing up anti-Zionism with antisemitism, making boycott illegal, poor political leadership, the fate of Julian Assange”. 

Britain has stood by its ally Israel since the Hamas-led 7 October attacks, with both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer asserting Israel’s “right to defend itself”. 

Parliament descended into chaos and farce on Thursday after a motion to debate a ceasefire in Gaza brought by the Scottish National Party was derailed when the house speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, broke precedent to allow a vote to take place on a Labour amendment to the motion.