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British Museum’s Mary Beard trustee bid rejected by Number 10

The classicist was turned down last year at the end of Theresa May’s premiership.

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Professor Mary Beard is a vocal advocate the EU (Steve Parsons/PA)

Professor Mary Beard is a vocal advocate the EU (Steve Parsons/PA)

Professor Mary Beard is a vocal advocate the EU (Steve Parsons/PA)

The British Museum was told its bid to appoint Professor Mary Beard as a trustee was rejected by Number 10 because of her pro-European views, it has emerged.

The classicist, 65, was turned down last year at the end of Theresa May’s premiership.

Whitehall sources said that the decision to reject her had been made because she had often aired pro-Remain views, The Observer newspaper said.

It said that the Museum was told, when it asked why Prof Beard had not been approved, that the Government did not appreciate her pro-EU remarks, made on social media.

General view of the British Museum
The British Museum was warned off appointing Mary Beard by the Government (Tim Ireland/PA)

It is thought that the museum will still be able to appoint the professor and broadcaster, as trustees are able to appoint some members independently.

Sir John Tusa, a former trustee and former BBC World Service boss, told The Observer: “This is an absolute scandal. The trustees of the British Museum exist to protect its intellectual, academic and political independence…

“Will any Remainer now expect to be punished by the Government?”

Prof Beard told the newspaper: “There are cock-ups and conspiracies. I’m not, however, going to diss Boris Johnson or the Department of Culture.”

A source told the PA news agency that the classicist’s name was rejected because of her pro-Remain views.

PA