Row over plaque highlighting slave trade at Melville Monument

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A row has broken out over plans to highlight Scotland’s slave trade past on one of its most prominent monuments.

Melville Monument in St. Andrews Square honours 18th century politician Henry Dundas, the 1st Viscount Melville.

As one of Scotland’s most powerful politicians of the day, Dundas is also known for delaying the abolition of slavery in 1792 when he was Home Secretary.

Campaigner Adam Ramsay, who co-edits openDemocracy, will meet Edinburgh Council bosses this week to discuss a new plaque at the monument. He wants the plaque to say: “A prominent politician and government minister, Dundas was controversial even in his own era. He worked diligently to delay the abolition of the slave trade, blocked movements for democracy in Scotland, mobilised troops to quash protests against the Highland Clearances, and as First Lord of the Admiralty, was key to the expansion of the British Empire.”

His plans have been backed by a public petition.

But Bobby Melville, the 10th Viscount Melville, said claims about his ancestor were “wholly untrue”.

Edinburgh Council said: “We remain open to new ways of interpreting history and the events they represent.”