Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London removes statue of founder over slave links

11 June 2020, 20:57

The statue of Sir Thomas Guy will be removed
The statue of Sir Thomas Guy will be removed. Picture: Getty

By Asher McShane

Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital has taken the decision to remove from public view two controversial statues of benefactors including its founder Sir Thomas Guy over links to the slave trade.

Trust bosses announced today that they would be removing statues of Robert Clayton and Sir Thomas.

Sir Thomas made a fortune through ownership of a very large number of shares in the South Sea Company, whose main purpose was to sell slaves to Spanish Colonies. Sir Robert Clayton was connected to the Royal African Company, which shipped more African slaves to the Americas than any other institution.

In a joint statement from the hospital trust, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and Kings College London published on Twitter, they said: “Like many organisations in Britain, we know that we have a duty to address the legacy of colonialism, racism and slavery in our work.

READ MORE: Statue of Scouts founder Baden-Powell given 24-hour guard

“We absolutely recognise the public hurt and anger that is generated by the symbolism of public statues of historical figures associated with the slave trade in some way.

"We have therefore decided to remove statues of Robert Clayton and Thomas Guy from public view, and we look forward to engaging with and receiving guidance from the Mayor of London’s Commission on each.

"We see the pervasive and harmful effects of structural racism every day through our work. Black people have worse health outcomes, and this inequality is one of many ways racism permeates our society.

"We are fully committed to tackling racism, discrimination and inequality, and we stand in solidarity with our patients, students, colleagues and communities."

Guy’s and St Thomas’ is the hospital where Boris Johnson was treated in intensive care after he contracted coronavirus.

Two days ago a statue of slaveholder Robert Milligan was removed from outside the Museum of London Docklands.

In another development today a statue of Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell was given 24/7 security after locals rallied against it being removed amid the ongoing debate about historical figures in Britain.

The figure of Baden-Powell has stood in Poole since 2008, after being built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Scouts in Britain.

The statue in Poole Quay, Dorset, had been targeted by campaigners due to his associations with the Nazis and the Hitler youth programme, as well as his actions in the military during the Boer War.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council initially said the statue would be removed and put into temporary storage to protect it from criminal damage, but backed down following furore from locals who vowed to protect it.