Clause 2 - Meaning of ''tainted cultural object''

Part of Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 14th May 2003.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 2:30 pm, 14th May 2003

Thank you, Mr. Hurst. Notwithstanding that, my opening comments apply also to amendment No. 2. Both amendments are from the advisory panel.

Subsection (2) is awkwardly worded, and that may lead to arguments among smart lawyers about its

meaning. We should concentrate on the illegality of the circumstances in which an object is removed. We must clamp down on people who excavate and remove valuable objects from archaeological sites without permission. Those people may then put the objects on the open market. As it stands, the clause could involve anybody for committing a crime that is quite unconnected with the act of removing an artefact. Was a mechanical digger used for excavation stolen? Was the person connected with the excavation the subject of a money-laundering action or a prosecution for tax evasion? Those matters are separate from the key charge of whether it was legal to remove the artefact.

We should concentrate on the object and its removal, not the legal status of the person or persons connected with the removal. If an object was removed and sold legitimately, but it was removed by a person who was guilty of other offences, it would, technically, be tainted.