British Museum deputy director leaving role after artefacts theft scandal | UK News

Dec 14, 2023 | Uncategorized


The deputy director of the British Museum “will be leaving” his role after around 2,000 artefacts worth millions of pounds were declared missing, stolen or damaged.

It is unclear whether Dr Jonathan Williams resigned or was fired from his role.

He had previously agreed to step back while the head of the British Museum, Hartwig Fischer, resigned in the wake of the scandal in August that prompted a police investigation.

The museum later appointed Sir Mark Jones as interim director.

Dr. Jonathan Williams, Vice Director of the Bristish Museum
Image:
Dr Jonathan Williams

Dr Williams’ resignation came just one day after an independent review found the museum had been alerted to suspicions of thefts in 2021 – but an initial investigation incorrectly concluded there was no basis to the claims.

Later that year, a spot check by an internal audit revealed an item not in its proper location within the Greece and Rome strongroom, leading to a wider audit of that area as well as the jewellery and gem collection within it.

The audit, which began in April 2022, subsequently revealed more evidence of missing objects.

An unnamed member of staff has been sacked and the museum is taking legal action, while a police investigation is ongoing.

The review, led by Sir Nigel Boardman, Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi and Deputy High Court Judge Ian Karet, said of the 2,000 items – some 1,500 are missing or stolen.

Around 350 items have had portions removed, such as gold mounts for gems.

Museum officials believe these portions are unlikely to be recovered because they have probably been sold for scrap, the report adds.

Read more:
Worker accused of stealing artefacts ‘not cooperating’
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Sir Mark Jones announced as interim director of British Museum

Around 140 items have been damaged by tool marks.

Of the 1,500 missing or stolen items, 351 have already been returned and more than 300 further items have been identified.

More than a third of the report’s published recommendations are already under way or completed, the British Museum said, including a plan to complete the documentation and digitisation of the entire collection within the next five years.



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