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This site first drew attention to the fact that Chris Ofili, whose work The Upper Room was a major purchase
by the Tate trustees, is himself one of those trustees, who had earlier asked other artists to donate work.

Pages on this site about the Chris Ofili Upper Room Tate trustee scandal
Censure • Press • Jon Snow censored • Trustee minutes: Jan + May 2003 - Jul 2003 - Nov 2003 - Jan 2005 • Trustees • Letters - Dossier to Charity Commission and DCMS - to Chris Ofili - to Paul Myners - to Tate Legal • Questions • Background • Poem

See other press coverage of the Tate Ofili scandal here
Tate Ofili scandal cover-up continues: C4 TV news reader Jon Snow censored

This story was notified to the Evening Standard, Londoner's Diary,
who covered it in their
first edition, 22.2.06.

The Tate Gallery is less than forthright in its communications to the public, who pay for it and who own it. Following the Stuckists' campaign for more openness at the Tate, the trustee minutes are now on the web. Some of the minutes have been redacted (censored) under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), which states that information can be withheld (it doesn't have to be withheld though) on the grounds that it will prejudice the institution's commercial activities.

Channel 4 TV newsreader, Jon Snow, is one of the Tate trustees. Regarding the prospective purchase by the Tate of his fellow trustee Chris Ofili's work The Upper Room, the July 2003 minutes on the Tate website contain the following statement:

Jon Snow wondered whether
Information has been exempted under s. 43 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Information has been exempted under s. 43 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.,

to enable the acquisition reflected the considerable interest.
[repeated line occurs in the original]

In fact the missing passage has previously been supplied to the Stuckists under an FOI request. It is shown in red:

Jon Snow wondered whether [X's]
withdrawal reflected a change in the market value of the group, but Nicholas Serota assured him that this was not the case: that Victoria Miro had secured a group of benefactors, including
[Y] to enable the acquisition reflected the considerable interest.

(X is the redacted name of a US collector who was going to jointly purchase the work with the Tate, but opted out; Y is the redacted name of one of the (five) new benefactors, who contributed over half the purchase cost of the work.)

The following points emerge:

1) There can be no justification for withholding material from publication which is already in the public domain.

2) This information does not prejudice Tate's commercial interests and so should not be withheld under section 43(2). If the Tate had considered it would do so, it would not have supplied it to the Stuckists in the first place.

3) The subject of the redacted information has already been the cause of media attention, regarding first of all the amount paid for this work, and secondly the involvement of a group of (five) benefactors, who were also simultaneously buying their own Ofili work with the benefit of "insider" information. This was the subject of a leader in The Times (28 Oct 2005): " A trader acquires stock he knows is about to rise, then counts the profits. Such cases are, respectively, hypocritical, unethical and illegal. The conflicts of interest are obvious. They would leave most people aghast. Hence the natural concern about the Tate’s purchase of a work by one of its own trustees, Chris Ofili. ".

4) The Tate is misusing exemption 43(2) to withhold information that would cause it embarrassment (which is specifically not permitted under the FOI guidelines), and is in breach of the Act.

5) The passage now gives the opposite meaning to the real one, indicating that Jon Snow is talking about considerable interest in the purchase, whereas he is actually casting doubt on it.

6) This story was covered in the Evening Standard on 22 February 2006. As of 2 February 2008, the minutes are still on the Tate web site with the information missing.

July 2003 trustee minutes on the Tate site
July 2003 trustee minutes on the Stuckist site with more information

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