British Museum Fired Staffer Over Missing and Damaged Items

London’s British Museum has fired a staff member after items from its collection were found to be missing, stolen, or damaged earlier this year.

The museum said the majority of the items were small pieces of “gold jewellery and gems of semi-precious stones and glass dating from the 15th century BC to the 19th century” that were were kept primarily for academic and research purposes. None of them had been recently on display.

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The British Museum has launched an independent review into its security protocols led by former trustee Sir Nigel Boardman and British Transport Police chief constable Lucy D’Orsi. “They will also kickstart—and support—a vigorous programme to recover the missing items,” the museum wrote in its press statement.

“It will be a painstaking job, involving internal and external experts, but this is an absolute priority—however long it takes—and we are grateful for the help we have already received,” Boardman said in a statement.

The museum’s press announcement also said it would be taking legal action against the former staff member and that the Metropolitan Police’s Economic Crime Command was investigating what happened.

“This is a highly unusual incident,” British Museum director Hartwig Fischer said in a statement. “I know I speak for all colleagues when I say that we take the safeguarding of all the items in our care extremely seriously. The Museum apologises for what has happened, but we have now brought an end to this—and we are determined to put things right. We have already tightened our security arrangements and we are working alongside outside experts to complete a definitive account of what is missing, damaged and stolen. This will allow us to throw our efforts into the recovery of objects.”


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