Statue of slave owner Picton should be removed, says descendant

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Sir Thomas Picton statue
Image caption,
A statue of Sir Thomas Picton (left) can be seen in a gallery of Welsh heroes at Cardiff City Hall

A relative of a 19th Century war hero has said a statue of him in Cardiff City Hall should be removed and placed in a new museum of slavery.

Sir Thomas Picton, from Haverfordwest, who died at Waterloo has also been denounced for cruelty as a slave owner and colonial governor of Trinidad.

Aled Thomas said he felt "rather embarrassed" to be related to him.

Lord Mayor Dan De'Ath and council leader Huw Thomas have urged colleagues to agree to removing the statue.

On Sunday, protesters in Bristol toppled a statue of 17th Century slave trader Edward Colston, as part of a wave of anti-racism protests around the world sparked by the death in police custody of George Floyd in the US city of Minneapolis.

Picton's statue was unveiled in 1916 as part of a collection of Welsh heroes depicted in marble, including St David, Owain Glyndwr and King Henry VII.

Image caption,
Sir Thomas Picton defended his right to obtain confessions by torture while governor of Trinidad

In a letter to the leader of the council, Aled Thomas explained that Sir Thomas Picton's grandfather, Owen Picton, was his eight-times-great grandfather.

"However, while I am related to the Picton family, I do not defend the cruelty that Sir Thomas Picton caused," said.

"In fact, I feel rather embarrassed to admit I am related to him.

"We cannot help where we are from and who we are descended from. Also, we cannot change what has happened in the past.

"But what we can do is learn from them."

Mr Thomas said his "personal recommendation" would be for the Welsh and UK governments to set up a national slavery museum which would include statues of slave owners alongside "detailed descriptions of their history".

Cardiff council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service members would debate what to do about the statue and other memorials of contentious historical figures "at the earliest possible opportunity".