NEIL Oliver is stepping down as president of the National Trust for Scotland more than two years after nearly 200 quit the heritage group over the appointment of the broadcaster described as "divisive" and "pro-Union".

The historian, archaeologist, author and TV presenter who was appointed by the National Trust for Scotland in October, 2017 is notorious amongst hardcore nationalists for describing the uncertainty caused by the prospect of a second referendum as a “cancerous presence” and describing Alex Salmond as a “round, wrecking ball of a man, shaped only to do damage”.

The TV presenter was also heavily criticised last week after sister paper The National revealed that he had liked an anti-Black Lives Matter tweet.

He will leave his post in September.


Flashback to 2018 when Neil Oliver was appointed.

Mr Oliver says he had always planned to do no more than a three-year stint as head of the organisation.

It comes days after the charity was forced to issue a statement over his alleged admiration of disgraced historian Dr David Starkey.

The NTS said last week that Mr Oliver’s apparent public support came before the historian Dr Starkey was stripped of numerous positions following comments he made about slavery on an online radio show.

Dr Starkey, who rose to prominence in the early 2000s for his writing and documentaries on Tudor politics, argued in an interview that slavery cannot be considered genocide because “otherwise there wouldn't be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain”.

Last Monday, Mr Oliver responded to a post from former Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes promoting an interview with Dr Starkey, writing: “Tell him I love him, by all means.”


It was in that broadcast interivew, which came after Mr Oliver's comment that Mr Starkey claimed slavery “was not genocide" because “so many damn blacks” survived.

NTS condemned Mr Starkey’s “offensive” comments about slavery, but on Mr Oliver, the organisation said: “When stating his personal views, as in these recent cases, he is not representing the trust.”

Renfrewshire-born Mr Oliver who was described as “divisive” by senior SNP members for his well known pro-Union anti-independence views was chosen to replace Lord Lindsay at the helm of the conservation charity at the Trust’s AGM in Dundee’s Caird Hall, in January 2008.

Chairman Sir Moir Lockhead said the choice was of someone who had "spent much of his adult life championing Scotland and its heritage".

The Trust later confirmed 170 that had quit the Trust citing Mr Oliver as the reason but was set against a membership of around 380,000.

In a statement, the Mr Oliver said: “My three-year term as president comes to an end in September and, as I had intended, I will be stepping down from the role at the time. It’s been a complete privilege to work throughout the term and represent the Trust.

“I will look forward to seeing who replaces me in October and they will have my full support.”

NTS received 350 to 400 complaints in the days after the appointment of the broadcaster but the Trust said about 95 per cent were from non-members or people with otherwise no connection to the charity.

A petition opposing Mr Oliver's appointment because "he does not have the Scottish people and Scotland's interests at heart" was signed by more than 8,300 so far.

The broadcaster, who wrote an article in May, 2017 in which he referred to the independence referendum as a “hate fest” stated that subsequent criticism of his appointment was "water off a duck's back" and "only coming from anonymous commentators".

And he insisted the National Trust for Scotland had not asked him to steer clear of controversy and refrain from commenting on Scottish politics during his tenure in the role.

Commenting on Oliver’s announcement that he will stand down, NTS chairman Sir Mark Jones, said: “Throughout his busy career as a broadcaster and author Neil has championed Scotland and its heritage and we are extremely grateful to him for giving up so much of his valuable time to represent the Trust.

“Since his appointment in 2017, he has striven to promote our work and achievements and in doing so elicited support on our behalf from many generous donors.”

In 2017, the TV presenter best known as a presenter of several BBC documentary series, including A History of Scotland, Vikings and Coast revealed he quit using social media after being subjected to “vicious” abuse from pro-independence supporters.

He deleted his Twitter account after being being bombarded with hate-filled messages after he spoke out in favour of the Union.