Bristol's British Empire and Commonwealth Museum (BECM) has become embroiled in a scandal surrounding the dismissal of its former director, Gareth Griffiths, over the alleged theft of antiquities. "Gareth Griffiths has been dismissed as director for the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum for abuse of his position as director and unauthorised disposal of museum objects," Neil Cossons, chairman of the BECM trustees, told Museums Journal. Avon and Somerset Constabulary is undertaking a theft investigation. Mr Griffiths vigorously denies the allegations and intends to take his dismissal to an employment tribunal.
His solicitor, McCloy Legal, said in a statement: "He has never been interviewed by the police and any objects were disposed of with the knowledge of the trustees and the receipts fully audited."
At least two of the museum's items were disposed of, allegedly without their trustees' permission.
These include a 19th-century wooden panel, which was consigned to a New Zealand auction house last September.
"Bristol CID is investigating the theft of several items in order to identify the person responsible," said an Avon and Somerset Constabulary spokesperson.
"The investigation is at an early stage and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."