Gold jewellery among items stolen from British Museum as staff member sacked

The British Museum has dismissed a member of staff after items from its collection were found to be missing, stolen or damaged.

The museum will be taking legal action against the staff member and reviewing its security after the crime was discovered.

The Economic Crime Command of the Metropolitan Police is also launching an investigation.

Gold jewellery and gems of semi-precious stones and glass dating from the 15th century BC to the 19th century AD are among the items which were missing, stolen or destroyed.

None of the items were on public display – they had been kept primarily for academic and research purposes.

A vigorous programme has been launched to recover the missing items.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, described the incident as “highly unusual”. He added: “I know I speak for all colleagues when I say that we take the safeguarding of all the items in our care extremely seriously.

“The Museum apologises for what has happened, but we have now brought an end to this – and we are determined to put things right.

“We have already tightened our security arrangements and we are working alongside outside experts to complete a definitive account of what is missing, damaged and stolen. This will allow us to throw our efforts into the recovery of objects.”

Sir Nigel Boardman, former trustee of the museum who will be leading an independent review of its security, said: “The British Museum has been the victim of theft and we are absolutely determined to use our review in order to get to the bottom of what happened, and ensure lessons are learnt.

“We are working alongside the Metropolitan Police in the interest of criminal justice to support any investigations.

“Furthermore, the recovery programme will work to ensure the stolen items are returned to the museum.

“It will be a painstaking job, involving internal and external experts, but this is an absolute priority – however long it takes – and we are grateful for the help we have already received.”

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