WS Society cuts ties with fund linked to slave trade

WS Society cuts ties with fund linked to slave trade

A £1.8 million fund for children’s education in Aberdeenshire and Moray is on the brink of “collapse” after the WS Society cut links to it over its connection to the Atlantic slave trade.

Robert Pirrie, chief executive of the WS Society, confirmed that it would no longer be appointing trustees to oversee the Dick Bequest Trust.

The move comes as academic Sir Geoff Palmer told The Sunday Times that the fund’s cash should be returned to Jamaica.

The WS Society normally appoints five of the 10 governors, with Aberdeen University naming another two. The councils appoint the remaining trustees.

The bequest was established after the death of Forres-born merchant James Dick some two centuries ago. It has provided grants to teachers and schools in Aberdeenshire and Moray ever since.

But it was revealed last year that the money was linked to Mr Dick’s fortunes made as a slave trader in the Caribbean.

David Alston, one of the historians who made the finding, said: “The Dick Bequest trust has, in effect, collapsed. Aberdeenshire Council is struggling to make its two appointments and Moray Council’s trustee was appointed to campaign to redirect the funds to Jamaica.”

He said the Scottish government should step in to address the future of the trust.

A spokeswoman for the trust, however, said a number of his comments were “factually incorrect”.

Moray Council said it would no longer promote the scheme or apply for grants. Councillors have decided, however, that they would still have to nominate a member to sit on the board.

A Scottish government spokesman said: “The Scottish government does not have the legal power to direct charitable activity. That is a decision for the remaining charity trustees.”

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