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Campaign group urges National Portrait Gallery to cut ties with BP

A campaign group which aims to end fossil fuel sponsorship of cultural institutions and exhibits has submitted a complaint to the National Portrait Gallery urging them to end their sponsorship by petroleum giant BP.

BP barrel

25 July 2017

Culture Unstained, advised by law firm Leigh Day, have written to the gallery about its decision to renew its sponsorship agreement with BP. Culture Unstained believe that the sponsorship breaches the gallery’s internal and external polices and its legal obligations.
 
The campaigning organisation has asked the gallery to conduct a thorough process of due diligence in relation to its sponsorship by BP and make its outcome available to the public, taking into account the issues raised by their complaint. In addition, Culture Unstained has asked the gallery to create an ethics committee to scrutinise decisions where ethical questions are raised and revise its Ethical Fundraising Policy and Research Guidance.
 
In their letter of complaint Culture Unstained cite that BP’s contribution to climate change, the Deepwater Horizon disaster and its work with regimes who are suspected of human rights violations are all at odds with internal and external criteria for accepting corporate sponsorship.
 
On 28 July 2016 it was announced that BP had renewed its sponsorship of the gallery for a further five years, beginning in 2018.
 
Chris Garrard, campaigner at Culture Unstained, said:
 
“The National Portrait Gallery had a responsibility to carry out thorough research into BP before accepting its offer of sponsorship last year. Had it done so, it would have been clear that BP's close ties to regimes that violate human rights clashes with the principles set out in the Gallery's own Ethical Fundraising Policy.
 
“Either the Gallery didn't do that crucial research or it is simply unwilling to put its policy into practice. The Gallery now needs to urgently address this issue before it risks damaging the public's trust in it further.”
 
Rosa Curling, solicitor at Leigh Day, is advising Culture Unstained in relation to their complaint.
 
She said: “We hope that the detailed complaint sent to the National Portrait Gallery by Culture Unstained will prompt the gallery to re-examine its sponsorship relationship with BP.
 
“As a public institution the gallery must carry out thorough due diligence on all partners to ensure that the public’s trust can be upheld.”

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