Appendix 6 - The second interim report
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
BY THE BOARD OF INQUIRY
APPOINTED BY THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE TRUSTEES
OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM AT A MEETING ON 8TH OCTOBER, 1938
1. The Board beg to refer to their previous Interim Report of 7th November 1938 which was laid before the Standing Committee of the Trustees at their Meeting on 12th November 1938. Prior to that Meeting the passages of the Board's Interim Report attributing neglect of duty to Mr. Pryce and Mr. Hinks were communicated to them and they each submitted a written statement in answer. These statements were laid before the Meeting of the Standing Committee along with the Board's Interim Report, and Mr .Pryce and Mr. Hinks were each called in separately and afforded an opportunity, of which they availed themselves, of supplementing their written statements and answering questions addresed to them by members of the Committee and the Director.
2. The Committee, having taken into consideration the Board's Interim Report, the written statements by Mr. Pryce and Mr. Hinks and the results of the interviews, resolved in terms of the following extract from the Minutes of the Meeting:-
The Committee accepted the Interim Report of the Board of Enquiry, and requested the Board to meet at 4.15 p.m. on November 15th in order to complete its enquiry and to make recommendations particularly in regard to the disciplinary action to be taken and the publication of the facts.
3. The Board held a fourth meeting on the 15th of November 1938 at which all the members were present except Sir Charles Peers who communicated his views in a letter to Lord Macmillan of 14th November. The Board examined J. F. Sinclair and A. E. Simenton, two of the labourers who had been engaged in the cleaning of the sculptures; and A. S. Holcombe, the Foreman Mason, was recalled and further examined. Sinclair stated that he had used copper tools in cleaning the Parthenon marbles since June 1937. He also stated that Daniel, the foreman employed by Lord Duveen, had pointed out to him that one of the slabs, chosen for Lord Duveen to show in his new gallery, was not white enough and that Holcombe had previously told him to see if he could brighten it up. The slab was in consequence recleaned. Daniel commended him for getting it whiter. The incident is of importance only as showing that Holcombe and Sinclair and presumably the other workmen were aware of Daniel's desire that the sculptures should be made as clean and white as possible for Lord Duveen.
4. The Board learned from Holcombe, Sinclair and Simenton that a sum of two or three pounds had been given by Daniel to Holcombe to be divided among himself and the workmen after they had performed some heavy work in moving some of the sculptures, and that this sum was shared among them. The Board do not associate this payment with the cleaning operations, except in so far as it was calculated to promote the readiness of Holcombe and the workmen to comply with Daniel's wishes.
5. The Board have investigated the position with regard to the dismissal of Keepers and Assistant Keepers of Departments. These officers are appointed by the three Principal Trustees, viz., the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker of the House of Commons, under the powers conferred by the statute 26 Geo.II.c.22 S.17. The form of appointment in use declares that the appointment is "subject to and until a removal from the said employment and service by the Principal Trustees of the British Museum for the time being, without prejudice to the power of removal for misbehaviour or neglect of duty vested in the Trustees of the British Museum by Section XV of the Act of Parliament of 26 George II, cap.xxii and subject to the provisions of the Acts of Parliament and the Orders in Council governing the retirements and superannuations of the Civil Service." Section XV of the Act provides that the Trustees "shall and may at their pleasure...suspend or remove...for misbehaviour or neglect of duty" any officer appointed by the Principal Trustees. As regards the powers of the Standing Committee, the existing Statutes and Rules in Chapter I paragraph 7 direct the Committee to "inquire as often as they think fit into the conduct of the Officers ... of the Museum and give directions accordingly", but they do not confer on the Committee any power to dismiss or remove Officers.
6. The Board have given anxious consideration to the question of the disciplinary action to be taken in the cases of Mr. Pryce and Mr. Hinks. After fully discussing the matter (without the presence of the Director) they have come to the conclusion that the interests of the Museum require that Mr. Pryce and Mr. Hinks be no longer retained on the staff of the Museum. As to the precise form which the termination of their appointments should take the Board are of opinion that this is a matter to be determined by the Trustees. The possible courses are (1) that they be permitted to resign; (2) that they be removed from office on the ground of their inability to discharge efficiently the duties of their offices; (3) that they be dismissed for neglect of duty. In the last mentioned case no retiring allowance would be granted; in the second case the Treasury have a discretion to grant a retiring allowance (Superannuation Act, 1887, sections 2 and 9); and in the first case presumably some retiring allowance would be payable if the resignation were on the ground of health, but not otherwise. The Treasury authorities, who have been unofficially consulted, have expressed a desire that they should be informed beforehand as to the disciplinary action to be taken.
7. The Board accordingly recommend that the Trustees in conjunction with the Principal Trustees at the Meeting of the Trustees to be held on the 10th of December 1938 terminate the appointments of Mr. Pryce and Mr. Hinks in such manner as may be deemed appropriate; and they suggest that Sir James Rae, K.C.B., K. B.E. of the Treasury be invited to be in attendance for the purpose of consultation, if thought desirable.
8. As regards the question of apprising the public of what has occurred the Board are of opinion that a public statement need not be made. They have learned with satisfaction that remedial measures applied by the Director and Dr. Plenderleith have mitigated to a considerable extent the evidence of the treatment which the three pediment-sculptures have received so far as the eye of the general public is concerned but to the expert the damage will remain discernible. In these circumstances the Board do not recommend any communication to the Press on the subject.