A controversial plaque accusing 18th century statesman Henry Dundas of being instrumental in deferring the abolition of the slave trade has been removed from the side of the 150ft monument commemorating him in Edinburgh.

According to our source, the brass panel was taken away at around 7pm on Monday.

However, it is not known who is responsible for taking the plaque.

The City of Edinburgh Council told The Herald that it had nothing to do with them and that they would be investigating the "improper removal."

The Herald:

Earlier this year, descendants of Dundas applied for and received listed building consent to have the plaque removed. They described the description as “cartoonishly inaccurate."

While that meant that technically the plaque could be removed, the final decision was for the landlords of the buildings around St Andrew Square, who are the owners of the monument, which was thought unlikely.

Council Leader Cammy Day said: "We are investigating the improper removal of a plaque at the base of the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square.

"As caretakers to the statue, any works to the monument would require the Council’s consent, which was not sought or given in this case.

“The decision of the Development Management Sub-Committee on March 1, 2023 did not give permission for the plaque to be removed.”

READ MORE: Sir Henry Dundas slavery plaque may be removed after family appeal

The plaque claims Sir Henry “was instrumental in deferring the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade.”

It goes on: “Slave trading by British ships was not abolished until 1807. As a result of this delay, more than half a million enslaved Africans crossed the Atlantic.”

It was crafted by a committee comprising of city councillors, Scotland's first black professor, Sir Geoff Palmer, and another academic. However, controversially, the panel did not include any historians. 

That led to Professor Sir Tom Devine, widely regarded as the country's leading historian, comparing them to a "kangaroo court."

He said they were rushing to judgment "on a complex set of questions without taking the advice of any real expert."

He said that it was "bad history" to pin the enslavement of half a million people on Dundas alone.

The Herald:

Last month, writing in Scottish Affairs published by Edinburgh University Press, Angela McCarthy, Professor of Scottish and Irish history and a director at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said Dundas had, if anything, helped steer the way for abolition.

She said the politician realising that William Wilberforce's charge to end slavery faced certain defeat in parliament from powerful slave owners, from the king and from the House of Lords, had tried “to chart a path by which Britain could abolish the slave trade, albeit gradually, starting with an immediate end to slave trading with foreign colonies."

Professor Palmer has rejected Professor McCarthy's evidence, describing it as an “insult to abolitionists such as Wilberforce and Clarkson."of black and minority ethnic people who live in and visit Edinburgh.”