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British Museum

Volume 737: debated on Monday 4 September 2023

On 16 August, the British Museum announced that it is undertaking an independent review of security after items from the collection were found to be missing, stolen or damaged.

The review will be led by a former trustee of the museum, Sir Nigel Boardman, and Lucy D’Orsi, chief constable of British Transport Police. The review will investigate the incident and provide recommendations regarding future security arrangements at the museum, in addition to supporting efforts to recover all missing collection items.

The matter is also currently under investigation by the economic crime command of the Metropolitan Police. The British Museum is working with the Met to support their investigations.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is closely monitoring the situation at the British Museum, and engaging directly with the British Museum on this issue.

I have spoken with the chair of the British Museum on a number of occasions and have sought assurances on the immediate measures that have been put in place to increase security at the museum and details of the scope and timetable for their review, which is being conducted under new leadership. My Department and I will continue to work closely with the British Museum and the wider museums sector to ensure that lessons are learned from this incident and that those lessons are shared once the independent review is complete.

The Department will provide any further material updates to the House if necessary, although the ongoing police investigation may limit the details that can be made available to both the Department and the public at this juncture.