Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn weighs into Elgin Marbles debate

Jeremy Corbyn MP Elgin Marbles "stolen"

Jeremy Corbyn MP Elgin Marbles "stolen" - Credit: Archant

Islington minister Jeremy Corbyn has weighed into the controversy surrounding Greek artefacts at the British Museum.

Mr Corbyn, MP for Islington North, said the Elgin Marbles were “stolen from the people of Greece”, adding the UK’s relations with Greece could be improved if constructive talks took place about returning some or all of the items.

The debate at the House of Commons on Thursday surrounded whether the marble sculptures should be sent back to their country of origin.

A team of London lawyers have been involved in talks with the Greek government about a potential legal bid for the works.

For more than 2,000 years the marbles decorated the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, but were removed about two centuries ago by Lord Elgin, a Scottish nobleman, and are displayed in London’s British Museum.

Greece maintains they were illegally removed during Greece’s Turkish occupation and should be returned for display in a new Athens museum - which the British Museum and the British Government reject.

Replying to Mr Corbyn, culture minister Helen Grant said: “I don’t accept that the items were stolen but I would assure you there is constructive engagement happening between the UK Government and the Greek government.

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“The matter was discussed very recently at the beginning of October at Unesco HQ in Paris.”