Royal Navy Slavery Statue Cancelled?

A planned memorial to the Royal Navy's role in ending the slave trade is in jeopardy amid claims it 'lacked sensitivity'.

Campaigners had been in talks to install a statue for the West Africa Squadron, which rescued 150,000 slaves during the 19th century, near the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. 1,500 British sailors died in the four decades-long campaign to stamp out slavery.

But talks broke down after Landsec, owners of Gunwharf Quays and the firm's 'employee diaspora network' objected. The first has said that the decision came after 'extensive discussions with our corporate affairs team and employee diaspora network'.

It added: 'We felt that on balance the proposed memorial lacked sensitivity and authenticity to what is a very emotive topic and dark part of our history as a nation.'

Toby Young, founder of the Free Speech Union, said: 'Landsec's decision to effectively toss the West Africa Squadron Memorial into the English Channel is outrageous.'

Penny Mordaunt, Leader of the Commons, said: 'The proposed West Africa Squadron memorial recognises the considerable efforts made by our Navy to stamp out this vile trade after 1807.'

An appeal to raise £70,000 for the 13ft bronze statue and Portland Stone plinth has been championed by the Mail and Ms Mordaunt – and saw a £25,000 donation from Tory peer Lord Ashcroft.

A spokesman for Gunwharf Quays said: 'We are committed to ensuring the centre is welcoming and inclusive. We didn't believe the memorial in its format would be consistent with our purpose.'

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