Letter: Britain's disgrace carved in stone

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The Independent Online
Sir: Sir Denis Mahon (letter, 16 September) rightly points out that the Getty Museum has been shabbily treated by the Government. Hilary Heilbron, QC, for the J Paul Getty Trust is to lodge an appeal for a judicial review of the Government's further deferral of an export licence until 5 November for Canova's magnificent The Three Graces. She submitted in court that the Heritage Secretary had changed the rules and had thwarted a 'legitimate expectation' of the Trust that the date of 5 August would be final.

Whatever the outcome, we strongly urge Stephen Dorrell not to undermine the British art market in the future by forcing prospective overseas buyers to doubt the fair play long associated with Britain's export procedure for works of art.

Without mutual trust we are concerned that Britain's standing in the international world of art dealing could be permanently damaged.

Yours faithfully,

NICOLAS NORTON

President

British Antique Dealers' Association

London, SW7

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