'Serious incident' at Beamish referred to police - Museums Association

‘Serious incident’ at Beamish referred to police

The Charity Commission received a serious incident report from the museum's trustees last year
Jonathan Knott
A serious incident relating to financial concerns at Beamish: The Living Museum of the North is now being examined by the police.

This follows the resignation of the former director of the museum, Richard Evans, last month. Evans resigned with immediate effect for unspecified reasons.

A statement from Beamish said: “The board, in line with their duties as trustees of the museum, did report a serious incident to the Charity Commission and the police. 
The Charity Commission has concluded its correspondence with the museum. However, as this matter is subject to investigation by the police, we cannot comment further on the nature of the incident.”

“We’d like to reassure people that the matter reported to the police will not impact the day-to-day running of the museum, and we are continuing to prepare to reopen in line with the government’s Covid-19 guidance for museums. We look forward to welcoming visitors back to Beamish very soon, so that together with our team of brilliant staff and volunteers, we can continue to build on Beamish’s successes to date.”

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: “Beamish Museum submitted a serious incident report, in line with our guidance, to the commission last year in relation to financial concerns at the charity. We have engaged with the trustees to assess their handling of the matter. We are continuing to monitor the charity’s next steps and cannot comment further at this time.”

Durham Constabulary said: “We have received some information from Beamish Museum and are currently examining it.”

According to reports in the Northern Echo, Evans was suspended on full pay last year after concerns were raised and an audit of the museum’s finances was carried out by Durham County Council.

A statement from the museum last year confirmed that an employee was suspended pending a disciplinary hearing. But it says that it “has not confirmed the name of the employee suspended last year, or the reasons why, as it is museum policy not to comment on individual HR matters for personal data protection reasons”.

Durham County Council referred inquiries from Museums Journal to the museum. The council provides annual grant funding to the museum and has three representatives on its board.

Local MP Kevan Jones has been quoted in the Northern Echo calling for more transparency on the issue.

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