Huw Edwards gets dressing down over museum portrait row by BBC bosses

Huw Edwards gets a dressing down over museum portrait row by BBC bosses after describing removal of museum portrait of Sir Thomas Picton as ‘censoring history’

  • Picture of Sir Thomas Picton taken down this week at National Museum Wales
  • The museum said the image of Picton was removed to ‘re-frame’ his legacy
  • BBC talking to Edwards about post in relation to guidelines around impartiality

BBC News presenter Huw Edwards is ‘being spoken to’ by bosses after he wrote that he felt ‘uneasy’ about a museum removing a portrait of an Army general due to his links to slavery.

A picture of Sir Thomas Picton was taken down this week after more than 100 years on display at the National Museum Wales.

The museum said the image – which labelled the slave owner a hero – was removed to ‘re-frame’ his legacy.

BBC News presenter Huw Edwards (pictured) is ‘being spoken to’ by bosses after he wrote that he felt ‘uneasy’ about a museum removing a portrait of an Army general due to his links to slavery

But in response to the move, the BBC’s News at Ten host, who last year was paid up to £429,999, wrote on Twitter: ‘As a journalist I feel uneasy about this element of “censoring” history. 

‘Should not Picton remain on display as a reminder to Wales of an aspect of its past – no matter how disgraceful?’ 

His comments come as the BBC clamps down on impartiality, including in the way its news staff express their views on social media.

It emerged yesterday that the BBC is talking to Edwards about his post in relation to its guidelines around impartiality. 

A spokesman said: ‘We are discussing this with Huw.’

BBC rules say that staff whose work requires them to be impartial should not ‘express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics, or “controversial subjects”.’ 

Edwards, 60, took down a social media post featuring a Welsh flag in it in March, after he appeared to mock a row caused when BBC Breakfast presenters Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty were accused of poking fun at then housing secretary Robert Jenrick for being interviewed in front of a large Union Jack.

The picture of Picton has now been put in storage while two artists with Trinidadian roots have been asked to provide greater context on his life. 

A picture of Sir Thomas Picton (above) was taken down this week after more than 100 years on display at the National Museum Wales

The museum is calling the project Reframing Picton. As governor of Trinidad, Picton abused slaves he owned and was considered a tyrant by 19th century standards. 

The portrait reflected his status as the highest-ranking officer to be killed at the Battle of Waterloo, in 1815.

Last week, after the publication of the Serota review – set up to examine BBC editorial processes in the wake of the Martin Bashir scandal over his Princess Diana interview – the corporation said it would sack stars who breached impartiality standards.

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