The controversial plaque on the statue of Henry Dundas has been removed “without permission”, according to Edinburgh council.
The mysterious removal comes after a request to have the plaque removed earlier this year was submitted to the Development Management Sub-committee.
Earlier this year, a group which included members of the Dundas family said the plaque’s wording is “cartoonishly inaccurate” and added it was “hurtful to our family”.
A spokesperson for council leader Cammy Day told STV News: “We are investigating the improper removal of a plaque at the base of the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square.
“As caretakers to the statue any works to the monument would require the council’s consent, which was not sought or given in this case.
“The decision of the Development Management Sub-Committee on March 1, 2023 did not give permission for the plaque to be removed.”
The brass plate in question states that Sir Henry Dundas “was instrumental in deferring the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade”.
It also states: “Slave trading by British ships was not abolished until 1807. As a result of this delay, more than half a million enslaved Africans crossed the Atlantic.”
In March of this year, Edinburgh City Council confirmed that there were no plans to remove the plaque from the monument in St Andrew Square.
They said: “The planning application wasn’t from the owner of the statue, so no further action is required. The discussion on if it should or will be removed does not apply here.
“As caretakers of the statue since 1822, and following positive engagement with the owners (proprietors of St Andrew Square), councillors agreed the new plaque and wording, which provides a more representative story of Henry Dundas.
“A temporary sign featuring the agreed wording was erected for a short time before being replaced by the permanent plaque in October 2021.”