Police investigate removal of slavery plaque from Melville Monument

The controversial plaque claimed that Henry Dundas advocated for delays to the abolition of slavery.

Police investigate “improper removal” of slavery plaque from Edinburgh’s Henry Dundas monument SNS Group

Police Scotland have said they are looking into the removal of a plaque from Edinburgh’s Melville Monument in St Andrew Square.

The capital’s council confirmed that the controversial plaque had been removed “without permission,” amid wrangling over the text containing information on its subject – Sir Henry Dundas – and his links to the slave trade.

The mysterious removal comes after a request to have the plaque removed earlier this year was submitted to the Development Management Sub-committee.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We received information regarding a missing plaque from a monument in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh on Wednesday, 20 September.

“Officers will be speaking to the reporter to gather more detail.”

The brass plate in question states that 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.”

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 did not give permission for the plaque to be removed.”

City of Edinburgh Council previously said 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.”

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