It has emerged today in the Guardian that there was a decision to block Mary Beard as one of the 20 Trustee’s for the British Museum that need to be approved by No 10 Downing Street. According to this article “The decision to turn down Beard is believed to have happened at the end of Theresa May’s premiership, when the museum proposed four new candidates for its board. Three were accepted, all from the worlds of business and finance. It is understood that the museum, noting that Beard was not among the names appointed by No 10, then made some discreet inquiries before eventually being told that the Brexit-embattled government did not appreciate her pro-EU social media remarks.” Because the Museum wants to have Mary Beard as one of the Trustees, they are now working to offer her one of the roles that fall within their own criteria. However this raises all sorts of concerns in my view.
The first is that the Government and Prime Ministers or indeed local Councillors should not be the people who control who is allowed to become a Trustee of any Charity, even if the Charity used to be a Government or Local Council body. The second is that given how Downing Street has determined why Mary Beard was not suitable for the British Museum and given the political nature of the people who they appoint as members of the House of Lords, what about the other roles that the Prime Minister chooses. If they have applied a political dimension to the people they have approved as a Bishop in the Church of England, this raises all sorts of concerns for the nature of the Church and indeed any other groups and organisations for which No 10 is able to influence matters like this. We clearly need an independent non-political body to make such decisions in the future!