An apology from the descendant of one of Liverpool’s biggest slave owners
Plus: We hear from more sources about Blue Coat — and how will HS2 cuts impact us?
Dear readers — it's been quite the weekend for us. On Saturday we published Part One of what was meant to be a two-part investigation into a series of scandals at the highly prestigious Blue Coat School in Wavertree.
However, before we could publish Part Two, Merseyside Police informed us that a 55-year-old man — presumed to be the school’s recently-sacked assistant headteacher Nick Barends — had been arrested “on suspicion of rape and sexual activity in the presence of a child” earlier this year.
We exclusively broke that news yesterday, but have had to put Part Two on hold for the time being. As we explained in yesterday’s edition, when someone is arrested, criminal proceedings are considered to be “active”, which greatly limits what can be said about them in public. We should have been given that information by the police when we spoke to them on Friday, but as soon as we received it, we had to change our plans and we hope you understand that.
Merseyside Police are currently appealing for witnesses regarding the case and have urged anyone with information to come forward. If you know anything that might be relevant, you can get in touch with the police via the contacts we listed in our story.
In today’s big story we ask: should the government follow in Liverpool’s footsteps and take accountability for the slave trade? In addition to that, we’ve got:
Which government minister is telling porkies according to Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram?
A renowned comedy sketch group comes to town
Our recommended reads including a fantastically funny piece from our friends over at The Fence
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The kind of reporting we have done on the Bluecoat story is both expensive and time-consuming — it involves getting on the phone with people for countless hours in order to corroborate key claims and disprove others. Sometimes those calls have to happen late at night or on the weekend. Sometimes they require an editor to look over a reporter’s notes to give a second opinion or speak to a lawyer to get advice. This weekend’s developments provide a pretty good example of why a company doing this kind of journalism needs the money to pay for lawyers and outside advice.
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Part One of our Blue Coat investigation has also prompted numerous ex-staff and pupils to reach out to us. If you would like to share any further information please email email@example.com. All tips will be treated confidentially.
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This week’s weather
Tuesday 🌧️ Light rain and a moderate breeze, highs of 19C
Wednesday 🌬️ Gusty winds and heavy rain, highs of 17C
Thursday 🌧️ Light rain and a moderate breeze, highs of 18C
Friday ☀️ Sunny intervals and a moderate breeze, highs of 17C
Weekend ☀️ Sunny and a gentle breeze, highs of 19C
This week’s weather forecast is sourced from BBC Weather and it’s for Liverpool.
The big story: Should the government follow Liverpool’s lead and apologise for its slave trade connections?
Top line: A descendant of a Liverpool slave trader says Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is “completely wrong” for refusing to apologise for the UK’s involvement in the slave trade. Entrepreneur Charlie Gladstone, the great-great-great grandchild of Liverpool merchant John Gladstone, said he is “profoundly ashamed” of his ancestor — who was one of the largest slave owners in the British West Indies — and has encouraged the government to acknowledge its role in the trade.
Context: John Gladstone — the father of Liverpool politician and Prime Minister William Gladstone — held mortgages over 2,508 enslaved Africans in Guyana and Jamaica in the 19th Century, and was paid more than £100,000 in compensation for his ‘loss’ after slavery was abolished. Mr Gladstone visited Guyana last month to apologise to the descendants of slaves, condemning the trade as a "crime against humanity" and setting up a charity to pay reparations.
This isn’t the first time Liverpool has shown accountability for its role in the slave trade. In 1999, the council made a formal apology for the city’s role in slavery, stating that “we can’t hide our history, it is built into the foundations of many institutions and buildings.”
Mr Gladstone’s apology last month sparked controversy. Some people — like Conservative MP Richard Drax — argue there is no need to apologise for the actions of relatives alive nearly 200 years ago. A similar stance has been taken by Sunak, who recently refused to apologise for slavery, saying that "trying to unpick our history is not the right way forward". Responding to Sunak, Gladstone says that “socio-economic injustices and racism still exist as a result of slavery", adding "you can't deny your past”.
Liverpool’s past and present: While many port cities across the UK bear connections to slavery, Liverpool has even stronger links to the trade. During the 18th century, Liverpool was Britain's main slaving port, with around 1.5 million Africans transported across the Atlantic using the city’s ships. As a nod to that fact, the International Slavery Museum is based here and hosts events and exhibitions to share the stories of enslaved people and encourage accountability.
A government spokesperson told the BBC they have no plans to pay reparations, adding that they “acknowledge the role Britain played centuries ago in enabling the horrific slave trade, whilst also noting that Britain led the world in ending it”.
Bottom line: For Charlie Gladstone, an apology and reparations from the government would be a step in the right direction. In an interview with the BBC, he said “it is a frightening thing to discover your past" when it uncovers connections to slavery, but ignoring the truth is “shutting down history". The first step, he says, is accepting responsibility for your ancestor’s actions. "I believe those who do will be judged by history as having done the right thing".
Got views on this? Or contacts for a piece we’re working on about the city’s links to slavery? Please post in the comments or hit reply to email us.
Your Post briefing
Former transport secretary Grant Shapps has been accused of “telling porkies” about HS2 by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram. In an interview this weekend, Shapps denied that any cost-cutting plans for HS2 — including scrapping the line between Manchester and Birmingham — would have an impact on the Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) project, which is set to improve travel between major cities in the North. Rotherham hit back at Shapps, saying that HS2 and NPR are “intrinsically linked”, with the Liverpool leg of NPR “reliant on a connection into HS2 infrastructure”. He says he raised this point ”over and over again” with Shapps when he was transport secretary earlier this year.
Ten men have been charged in connection with the death of a 19-year-old boy from Liverpool. Matthew Daulby was stabbed in Ormskirk in July, with two men already charged with his murder. Now, eight 19-year-olds and two 18-year-olds have also been charged with conspiracy to commit violent disorder, with Lancashire Police still appealing for information about the whereabouts of another man, 19-year-old Thomas Dures, who has links to Aughton and Liverpool. All ten men have been remanded into custody and will stand trial in November.
Liverpool City Council has set out its four-year improvement plan to provide “better services” to people in the city, and address some of the concerns raised in the 2021 Caller Report. The plan has six objectives, including creating growth in business and jobs, improving the city's infrastructure and providing residents with "high quality and inclusive education". Council leader Liam Robinson said the new plan was a "commitment to provide better services", adding that it tackles "complex, long-term issues facing our city, many of which have deepened following Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis". As ever with this city council, it’s probably best to judge them on what they do rather than what they say.
The ACC Liverpool Group, which operates the M&S Bank Arena and Exhibition Centre Liverpool, says it has achieved carbon neutral status. The organisation undertook a number of measures as part of its commitment towards sustainability, including working with Carbon Neutral Britain to measure its total organisational emissions and put a carbon reduction plan in place.
Home of the week
This three bedroom home in Tarbock Green is on the market for £375,000. Converted from a barn, the property has kept plenty of its original features including exposed beams and brickwork. Find out more here.
🎧A Love Lane rave at Quarry on Saturday will debut the brand new God Colony live show, plus DJ sets from NIKS, Forest Swords and Lupini. Better still, if you use this link you’ll get 50% off (don’t say we never do anything for you!).
🎭See Alan Bleasdale’s Boys from the Blackstuff at Liverpool’s Royal Court this week. Directed by James Graham, the play has received rave reviews since its debut last week, with the Guardian praising its “powerful portrayals of working-class pride”. Buy tickets here.
🎨View contenders for the John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Art Gallery this Wednesday. Embracing artists from all over the UK – whether they’re undiscovered, emerging, or established in their careers – the prize provides a platform for painters to show off their work and break through into the art world. Find out more here.
😂Renowned comedy sketch group Foil Arms and Cog heads to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on Saturday. The Irish trio have become the top selling act at the Edinburgh fringe festival for three consecutive years — find out why by buying a ticket here.
Our favourite reads
A fantastically funny piece from The Fence recounts the life of a security guard at Asda in Hunt’s Cross. Author Davey Brett reveals all in some of the top shoplifting highlights from his years manning those sliding doors: “‘Listen lad, if you don’t let me past I’m going to bounce this off your fuckin’ head.’ These were the words of a furious man about to steal a microwave; words I will never forget,” he writes. Other memorable moments include a mysterious turd in a toilet cubicle and a prolific fragrance thief. Enjoy.
A revealing look at some of the worst places in Liverpool to be a pedestrian from The Guardian last week. Riverside came out tops, with the city as a whole landing in the bottom five local authorities for walkways in England. “I find that most ways to get into town you have to go through some shady alleyways, so it is hard, especially like as a young female, to walk in those areas,” said one woman who lives in Riverside. “And when winter comes around it gets darker and harder to walk around safely so I get a friend to accompany me.”
Letters from readers
For me the greatest curse we have is the terrible quality of local leadership going back decade upon decade with a lack of vision since before the Beatles - there have been bad decisions compounding each other ever since, not just Liverpool but all the surrounding authorities too. When you look at what other areas have achieved by working together, it's truly depressing… ‘An honorary scouser walks into a bar… four months living in the city that has it all’, Ste Miller
My Voi tales are not happy ones. My husband uses a wheelchair and if I had £1 for every time I've had to squeeze him around a badly parked scooter - once even having to move the bloody thing - I'd be a lot richer than I am now.‘An honorary scouser walks into a bar… four months living in the city that has it all’, Rose Green