Residents of Denbigh vote on removal of Victorian explorer HM Stanley statue

Sir Henry Morton Stanley statue in denbigh
The statue is dividing opinion in the town of Denbigh.

A statue of famous Welsh explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley could be removed due to his links with European imperialism, exploitation and colonialism.

A petition calling for the monument to be pulled down - which was created during the Black Lives Matter Movement - has gained more than 8,000 signatures.

Residents in Denbigh, where the statue is located, have been asked to vote on whether the statue remains.

Who is Sir Henry Morton Stanley?

Originally from Denbigh, Stanley is known for his explorations and missions in Africa, but he also worked as an agent for Belgian King Leopold II.

The monarch committed acts of appalling inhumanity against the population of the Congo Free State - now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Stanley is accused of dealing with slave traders with the petition referring to the explorer’s ‘excessive violence, wanton destruction, the selling of labourers into slavery and shooting Africans indiscriminately.’

The town of Denbigh commissioned an artist to create the bronze statue of Stanley to mark his exploration of central Africa in 2011.

But the statue has been criticised since it was first announced, when a group of writers and campaigners including the poet Benjamin Zephaniah called for the plan to be abandoned.

The statue was officially unveiled in 2011. Credit: PA

The Bishop of St Asaph called last summer for its removal, saying that the explorer had "little respect for the natives of Africa".

Chairman of Denbigh town councillor Rhys Thomas said: "I need to keep neutral on all of this. I think it's been active on Facebook, but there we are. It is something a few people are quite interested in on either side."

Fellow councillor Glen Swingler added: "I think the feeling in town is very mixed. I've noticed on social media over the last couple of days that those coming out against it, they've got a bit more vociferous.

"It's not getting nasty. I wouldn't like to guess which way any sort of vote would go, but then again, I don't know how many people are actually going to go out and vote."

"I will vote, yes. I've got my own opinions, but I will vote as it is my right."

Even his contemporaries accused Stanley of cruelty, including fellow explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, who openly criticised him.