National Archives back down after eight-year fight from visitor who complained their ‘Empire-bashing’ exhibitions painted Britain’s colonial past in solely bad light
The non-ministerial government department has withdrawn displays and a blog
Tony Adler, 69, first complained about the archive’s lack of balance in 2009
The organisation, based in Kew, west London, have finally admitted their material lacked ‘due impartiality’
By PHOEBE SOUTHWORTH FOR MAILONLINE
21 December 2017
The National Archives has removed a series of displays and a blog post after being accused of ‘anti-British Empire-bashing’.
Retired history lecturer Tony Adler, 69, first complained to the organisation in 2009 after seeing a description of British colonialism as ‘profoundly oppressive’.
The caption was part of an exhibition at the Keeper’s Gallery museum, where visitors are introduced to historic moments covered by the archive’s 11 million records.
The organisation initially rejected the complaint but then agreed to reword the caption after Mr Adler appealed to their chief executive.
Mr Adler also complained about a blog post discussing the Partition of India, arguing that it took an anti-British stance on the historical event.
He took further issue with curators’ failure to mention William Wilberforce’s successful campaign to abolish the slave trade.
The organisation also didn’t make clear in the caption of a picture of HMS Daphne carrying slaves in the Indian Ocean in 1868 that the vessel was used to police seas and prevent slaving from east Africa and the Arabian peninsula, he said.
And now the archive, a non-ministerial government department based in Kew, west London, have admitted presenting Britain’s colonial history without ‘due impartiality’.
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