Wealthy British families 'should pay' reparations for proceeds of slavery

Her reparations have been described as the 'Trevelyan Model' for other families to follow
Laura Trevelyan resigned from her BBC role in order to devote more time to her payment of reparations for her ancestors' involvement in slavery
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Grenada has called on wealthy British families with historic links to slavery to follow the example of Laura Trevelyan, the former BBC journalist, and set up charities to pay reparations.

Ms Trevelyan personally pledged £100,000 to the island nation to atone for her ancestors’ slave profiteering and has now revealed that this will be delivered via education projects through a “first-of-its-kind” family charity.

It is hoped this will “set a precedent” that willing descendants of slave profiteers can follow, and a way for formerly colonised countries to receive reparations which are not forthcoming from recalcitrant Western nations.

The call for the use of family charities comes after The Telegraph revealed that the Caribbean Community (Caricom) would pivot to requesting reparations from institutions, who have a free hand to pay, rather than governments.

Ms Trevelyan said: “We hope to set an example. If one family can do it, why can’t all? I hope that we’re a model.”

Arley Gill, a lawyer and chair of Grenada’s Reparations Commission, said: “This has opened a pathway for other families, other institutions, to follow. Other families linked to Grenada and elsewhere in the Caribbean can get a workable example of what can be done with regard to repairing the harm which was done by slavery.

“The example that the Trevelyan family is setting is not only for what needs to be done but also how it should be done.”

He added: “We are hoping that wealthy families will come forward; those that benefited from slavery.

“A precedent has been established. I want to encourage more families to come forward.”

Direct and effective reparations payments

Trevelyan came forward in February 2023, offering £100,000 to Grenada in reparations after learning that her family owned more than 1,000 enslaved Africans on the island, and received compensation worth £3 million following abolition.

She quit her BBC role in New York to campaign for reparations and with her extended family has established a new charity called the Trevelyan Grenada Reparations Fund.

This will be a vehicle to deliver her pledge and any further donations by her family, 104 of which signed a formal apology to Grenada, to education projects on the island, after schooling was decided as the focus of the fund.

Trevelyan explained that the model would provide an easy and accessible way for family members and others to make direct and effective reparations payments, saying: “We had 104 Treveylan family members sign the letter of apology a year ago. If everybody gave £100, that would be £10,000. If everyone gave 1,000, that would be £100,000.”

The educational purpose of the funding was announced this week amid celebration of the 50th anniversary of Grenada’s independence from the UK, which formerly exploited the island for sugar production using slave labour.

Grenada’s Reparations Commission has pushed, along with its sister organisations in other countries within the Caribbean Community (Caricom), for reparations to be made for the slave economy overseen during the period of British rule.

In 2014, Caribbean governments issued a 10-Point Plan for reparative justice and made a string of demands to former colonial nations including Britain and France, but apologies and payments have not been forthcoming.

The Telegraph revealed in 2023 that the Reparations Commission was shifting from a focus on governments to individual institutions, and was preparing to demand reparations from the Royal Family, Church of England, and insurance companies like Lloyds of London.

The Church and Lloyds, along with many other institutions during the period up to abolition in 1833, benefited from wealth derived from slave labour.

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