Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Lord Janner of Braunstone QC

  I appreciated the invitation to write to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee concerning its inquiry on "Cultural Property: Return and Illicit Trade". I do so in two capacities. First, I am Chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, a charity that provides educational research and services for the advancement of knowledge about the Holocaust. Second, I do so in a personal capacity, as for some years I have been heavily involved in seeking to secure some measure of restitution for individual victims of the Nazis and their heirs, robbed of their assets including cultural property.

  First: I salute the work of the National Museum Directors' Conference in this regard. Over the past year or so, they have thoroughly researched works in their collections, the provenance of which was doubtful between the years 1933 and 1946; they have collated a list of over 300 such works with doubtful provenance; and they have published it so that it is available for potential claimants. This effort is almost unique—and is an example to other public museums and galleries, throughout the world.

  So far, there has only been one claim in respect of these works. It has been brought by a family who I am helping, for "View of Hampton Court" by Jan Griffier, in the Tate Gallery. Happily, they have sufficient proof of their ownership and the question now is how to get the process moving—not least because the head of the family is elderly and unwell and has recently endured a series of heart bypass operations.

  This case has been referred by the Tate Gallery to the Spoliation Advisory Panel, now set up by the Government, after a long and unworthy delay. Both the Board of Deputies of British Jews and I are deeply dissatisfied not merely by the delay but by the lack of prior consultation and by the terms of reference by which the Panel is to be guided. I should emphasise that the specific case is my responsibility and not that of the Board—but I thought it would be helpful to the Committee to have before it a copy of the most recent letter addressed by the President of the Board of Deputies, Eldred Tabachnik, QC and myself to Alan Howarth, the Minister responsible.

  Anything that the Committee could do in order to move the process forward would be very greatly appreciated—both because of the general importance of the issues concerned and of the individual case.

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