‘No sense of loss’ if Dundas statue removed

The leader of Edinburgh City Council has said he would feel “no sense of loss” if a statue of a politician who delayed the abolition of slavery was removed.

Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, worked to frustrate efforts to end the trade by using his influence as home secretary, setting the move back 15 years.

A 150ft column with a statue of the politician – known as the Melville Monument – stands in St Andrews Square and was vandalised during the Black Lives Matter protest in the Scottish capital on Sunday.

Council leader Adam McVey told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I would have absolutely no sense of loss if the Dundas statue was removed and replaced with something else or left as a plinth.

“I think it’s important to tell our story as a city, I think it’s important that that’s reflective, that’s representative of what actually happened – not what we might have wanted to happen – and I think we take that conversation from there.”

Dundas put forward an amendment to a Bill which would abolish slavery in 1792, opting for a more gradualist approach.

This allowed the practice to continue for 15 years longer than it otherwise would have done.

During this time an estimated 630,000 people were transported to Britain as slaves.

Dundas was nicknamed “the Great Tyrant” and was later impeached for the misappropriation of public money in 1806.

The now A-listed monument was erected in 1823.

Mr McVey’s comments came after campaigners pulled down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol and graffiti was scrawled on the monument to Sir Winston Churchill in London’s Parliament Square.

On Tuesday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced that the city’s landmarks would be reviewed to ensure they reflect the capital’s diversity.

He said the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm would examine murals, street art, street names, statues and other memorials, and consider which legacies should be celebrated before making recommendations.