National Museums Liverpool are pleased to announce they have a new slavery expert as their “historian in residence”. His name is Laurence Westgaph and, though he has almost no credible academic qualifications, he does have convictions for sex with a minor and violent assault…
We're excited to announce that Laurence Westgaph @AndSlavery will be joining National Museums Liverpool as our historian in residence, to support us in reinterpreting our collections in connection with the Atlantic slave trade and Britain’s role in colonisation. pic.twitter.com/8JOVvrMVPJ
— National Museums Liverpool (@NML_Muse) August 6, 2020
The bulk of Liverpool Museums’ funding — around £20 million per annum — comes from the taxpayer. I wonder how many taxpayers will feel that recruiting Westgaph is money well spent.
Westgaph’s main qualifications for the job appear to be looks (he’s an ex-model), diversity cred (he is of West Indian and Nigerian heritage), and a handy knack for working the system. Though he left school at 16 and has no undergraduate degree, he devised a Slavery Remembrance Tour round his native Liverpool — inspired by his ancestors’ experience of slavery — and has used this as a springboard for a career as a popular historian. As well as appearing regularly on the BBC as an ‘historian’ talking about everything from the Scouse accent to his pet topic slavery, he wangled a place on a Masters Degree course in Atlantic History at Liverpool University — pretty unusual for someone with no undergraduate degree.
His history of violence doesn’t inspire much confidence either. In 2009, he received a suspended sentence for a vicious attack on his tenant Ben Blanche. During the attack — apparently inspired by jealousy that Blanche was dating Westgaph’s ex-girlfriend — Westgaph inflicted serious injuries.
According to the Daily Mail:
In the ensuing attack, Ben was punched in the face several times and his hand was bitten.
Initially, it was thought that Westgaph had bitten Ben’s ear off, but in court it was said that there was no clear evidence as to whether it had been bitten or severed on a sharp object.
Afterwards, Westgaph telephoned for a taxi to take Ben to hospital. “I think he was in shock,” said Ben. “He could see what he’d done to my ear.”
At hospital, doctors, believing that the wound to his ear had been caused by a bite, gave him a hepatitis B injection and stitched it back together. He still has a plastic plate inserted around his eye socket to stop the eye muscle catching on the bone. His vision is blurred and his ear is scarred.
In 2000, Westgaph was given a community order after being found to have had sex with a 15-year old girl he had met at a club.
If Westgaph had been white with such a dubious track record and almost non-existent historical training, would he have landed an advisory role at one of Britain’s leading museums? It seems unlikely.
Certainly, not many people on Twitter appear quite as thrilled by Westgaph’s appointment as National Museums Liverpool are.
Mr Westgaph was convicted of sleeping with a minor, he was also convicted of GBH after he left a man with a fractured eye socket.
Why a publicly funded body would want him associated with anything they do is beyond me.
— Gareth Baines (@DrGABaines) August 6, 2020
Is he one of those museum employees that dresses up and does re-enactments. He could do a punch up show everyday at 1200. But let’s skip the sex one
— Teddy Wilson (@TeddyWilson78) August 6, 2020