Academics' plea to save art collection

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The Independent Online
SENIOR academics from London University yesterday sent a 100- page deposition to the Attorney General as part of their fight to stop the sale of pictures from the Royal Holloway and New Bedford College collection, writes Judith Judd.

They are contesting the Charity Commissioners' decision to allow the college to raise pounds 20m by selling a Constable, a Gainsborough and a Turner from a collection given by its Victorian founder.

Five professors say they have new evidence suggesting that the Commissioners did not take proper advice from art experts. They believe details about the college's financial position show that it does not need the money.

They want Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Attorney General, to lodge an appeal in the High Court. The case has become a cause celebre in the heritage world which fears it will lead to other universities selling historic collections.

A spokesman for the college said its critics had misunderstood the reasons for the sale: 'We are not selling because we are in financial difficulties but to create a long-term fund for the maintenance and refurbishment of the buildings and for the care of the remaining paintings,' he said.