British Museum director resigns over suspected thefts

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british museum director resigns over suspected thefts

Hartwig Fischer, a German art historian and director of the British Museum, has stepped down following alleged thefts of artefacts worth millions of pounds from the London institution.

Stressing his presence was “proving a distraction”, Fischer said the museum evidently “did not respond as comprehensively as it should have” in response to “warnings in 2021”.

It was later announced Jonathan Williams, the institution’s deputy director, would “voluntarily step back from his normal duties.”

‘Evidence Ignored For Two Years’

That will be the case until an independent investigation into the alleged thefts of artefacts has concluded, the museum said.

A senior curator was earlier sacked after almost 2,000 valuable items were believed to have been stolen. Dr Ittai Gradel had concerns and had tried to warn the institution about them.

Stressing it has been a difficult period, the Roman antiquities expert said Fischer had “done the right thing … and he deserves credit for that at least.”

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Gradel Accepts Fischer’s Apology

In his resignation statement, the museum director said he had “misjudged” some remarks he made about Gradel, expressing his sincere regret and wish to withdraw the comments.

The antiquities expert said he had considered seeking legal advice but said Fischer has now “apologised to me and I accept that.”

Highlighting their resolve “to fix what has gone wrong”, George Osborne, who chairs the museum’s trustees, said “no one has ever doubted Hartwig’s … dedication to his job.”

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