The British Museum has dismissed a whistle-blower’s complaints that over 100,000 photographs were copied into loan slides without permission from the Royal Photographic Society and the Royal Photographic Society Foundation.
There is no evidence to suggest that the school years of any members of the public were negatively affected, nor any evidence to indicate a breach of trust by the museum, according to an investigation carried out by the museum’s internal affairs board.
The Royal Photographic Society will be able to take only to court the photographs that it seeks to protect. It had asked the museum to return the photographs, which are part of the British Museum’s National Collection.
The museum investigated the complaint after an anonymous letter from a former employee was sent to the museum’s registrar in June, claiming that records of all photographic slides belonged to a trust managed by the society and “were freely given” by the museum.
The complaint alleges that the school photos were copied without the society’s knowledge, and that the museum was told by a former consultant that the society had “no evidence that the prints were doctored or edited, and no security firm had found any evidence of weakness or penetration.”
The museum determined that these allegations did not have “a substantial likelihood of succeeding” and therefore there was no need to take disciplinary action against any museum staff.