Calls for removal of statue celebrating 'sadistic slave-trader' Sir Thomas Picton

There are mounting calls for statues and monuments to former slave-trader Sir Thomas Picton to be removed in Wales.

Cardiff's Lord Mayor, Cllr Dan De'Ath has written a letter calling for a statue of the "sadistic" Picton to be removed from the Marble Hall in Cardiff City Hall.

The leader of Cardiff Council, Huw Thomas, subsequently said that he "fully supports" the calls to remove the statue from Cardiff and would "bring forward a Council Motion asap".

Councillor Thomas added: "But gestures aren't enough, so I'm also proposing a Task Force to work with Black Communities in Cardiff to establish what more we can do to support them."

Sir Thomas Picton is remembered for his role in the Peninsular War and for being the highest ranking officer killed at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

But he also earned the moniker of "Tyrant of Trinidad" after serving as a governor there. He was known for his brutal regime on the island.

Sir Thomas Picton Credit: English Heritage

In 1806 he was convicted of ordering the illegal torture of a 14-year-old girl, Louisa Calderon.

He admitted to the charge but the conviction was later overturned.

Picton is also accused of having amassed a substantial fortune after profiting from the then legal slave trade.

The leader of Cardiff Council, Huw Thomas, subsequently said on Twitter that he "fully supports" the calls to remove the statue Credit: Cardiff City Hall

In his letter to Cardiff Council, Cllr De'Ath wrote he felt it was "an appropriate time to reassess how fitting it is for Cardiff to honour a man such as Picton with a statue on public display."

He wrote: "I feel is it no longer acceptable for Picton's statue to be amongst the "Heroes of Wales" in City Hall and I am calling on you to arrange for its removal from the Marble Hall at a time when resources and logistics allow and when it is safe to do so."

It comes as a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down during racial equality protests in Bristol during the Black Lives Matter protests.

Responding to questions from journalists during the Welsh Government daily coronavirus press conference, the First Minister said "where we have statues to people in Wales whose histories belong in that past, rather than being on display as a form of continued celebration, then action should be taken. "

Mark Drakeford also said he "wouldn't want to see the way in which the statue was treated in Bristol repeated here."

He added: "While I share the revulsion share by people at events in the United States and agree we have to learn those lessons here in WalesI still want to ask people in Wales to express their protests in ways that does not add to the public health risk."

Cardiff Council will vote on whether to remove the statue on Thursday, 23 July.

The petition has been signed by 1,000 people since the weekend.

A petition for a 25m high obelisk in Carmarthen, known as the Picton Monument, to be renamed has also received 20,000 signatures.

19-year-old Gweni Marni started a petition to "end the commemoration" of Picton via the monument in Carmarthen.

Gweni is from the town and wants the obelisk to be renamed and used to remember "someone good."

She said: "A lot of people have to idea that he [Picton] has done these things. What he did wasn't even 'of the times', he was a controversial figure in his time and he went to trial for what he did. I just think there's no place for it at all. It's just a symbol of our ignorance."

"We need to recognise our history and not celebrate figures like this."

Carmarthenshire County Council has confirmed it maintains the monument but is making enquiries into who owns it.

There are roads and pubs across Wales named after Picton.