On this page we bring you the latest information on the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. Last updated in March 2012.


Major international conference on the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles


This conference will be presented jointly by the British, American and Australian Committees for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles on the anniversary of the opening of the Acropolis Museum and the occasion of the London Olympics which will start one month later.

Venue: London Hellenic Centre
Duration: 2 days (19-20 June 2012)
Entrance Fee: ฃ79 (includes refreshments throughout day one and lunch)


Day One: Tuesday 19 June 2012
Presentations by speakers from the UK, Greece, Australia, USA and elsewhere. Themes will include legal issues relating to the reunification of the marbles and the concept of the universal museum.

Day Two: Wednesday 20 June 2012
Organised attendance at the British Museum.
The Missing campaign will be launched.

For more information contact Eddie O'Hara, Chairman, British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. Email: eddieohara@hotmail.co.uk


Fife man claims "Elgin cheated at Marbles!"

Retired Dunfermline businessman Tom Minogue is today (Monday 23rd Feb) handing in a C.D. to the Chief Constable of Fife Constabulary alleging that the residents of Broomhall House, Charlestown, (family seat of the Elgins) and the British Museum London are in possession of stolen goods.

Mr Minogue has used recently discovered evidence from an American professor of law and his own research which show that:

1. Those from the Parthenon and other so called 'Elgin Marbles' were probably obtained illegally.

2. Elgin lied to the Select Committee of Parliament, which purchased the Parthenon Marbles.

3. Elgin had no authority to dismantle structures or desecrate graves.

4. Elgin used a fabricated 'memorandum' (written by himself or his Chaplin/occasional Private Secretary Dr Philip Hunt) to support his petition of Parliament.

5. Elgin or his staff bribed Turkish occupation officials to allow the theft of artefacts.

In short, Elgin cheated at Marbles and the British Museum acted to reset the stolen property, a criminal offence.

As well as taking his allegations to the police Mr Minogue is lodging a separate complaint that in 1816 a Select Committee of Parliament were defrauded into paying out £35,000 of taxpayers' money to purchase the proceeds of grave robbery.

For full details and complaint CD contact Tel No. 01383 729869 or Email: tomminogue@btinternet.com

The complete case set out by Tom Minogue can be read on this site. Click here to go the the Evidence to the Police page

British Museum rejects Greek plea before meeting Greek delegation

November 24 2002

Greek Minister of Culture Evangelos Venizelos recently visited Britain, bringing fresh proposals for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. Declaring yet again that ownership of the Marbles was no longer the key issue, he proposed that the Marbles be returned to Athens on a long term loan. In exchange the Greek government would loan the British Museum the pick of Greek antiquity, to be displayed on a rotating basis. This would have the added advantage for the British Museum that they would be able to charge for entry to this display whereas the Parthenon Marbles are part of the collection that can be seen for free. The British Museum is underfunded by the British Government and is desperately in need of more income.

Venizelos also suggested that the British Museum might like to open a branch in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens where the Parthenon Marbles would be housed. The Parthenon Marbles would effectively remain in the possession of the British Museum, which would also have joint control of them. (Photo shows artist's impression of new museum by night).

Instead of listening to these very reasonable and creative suggestions for solving the long-running disagreement between the British authorities and the Greek government, the director of the British Museum issued a statement before he had even met Venizelos announcing that the Parthenon Marbles could never be allowed to leave Britain.

It is bad enough that the British Museum insists on keeping the Marbles. But to declare so immediately before a meeting with the Greek Minister of Culture to discuss the issue shows the degree of arrogance that dominates British thinking on this issue.

Pressure must be maintained on the British government to agree to the proposals coming from the Greek side. It is very unlikely that the British Museum would continue to refuse to discuss the Greek proposals if the British government were to indicate its support. However, the situation in the British government is no better. Blair is also on record as insisting that the Parthenon Marbles should remain in Britain. The campaign still has a long way to go before the Marbles are returned to Greece. We must make the most of the opportunities presented by the holding of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens to embarrass the British government and the British Museum into changing their position.

New opinion poll shows British public supports return of Marbles to Greece

16 October 2002

A new opinion poll has revealed that 40% of the British public feel that the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Athens with only 16% believing that they should remain in London. When the conditions already accepted by the Greek government were included, then the number supporting return rose to 56% while the number wishing to keep the Marbles in London fell to 7%. The conditions were:

1. The marbles go to Greece on a long-term loan but Britain would still own them.
2. The marbles go to Greece on a long-term loan but Britain would still own them and have joint care of them.
3. A new Acropolis Museum in Greece is built to house the Parthenon Marbles.
4. Greece povides the British Museum with other exhibitions of Greek antiquity.
5. Greece makes no further claims on other pieces of art of historical value.

The new Acropolis Museum is already under construction in Athens. Greece long ago stated that it made no further claims on items from Ancient Greece in British museums. The other proposals actually come from the Greek side.

Interestingly the survey discovered that 4% of British people have visited the Parthenon sculptures which remained in Athens but only 9% have visited those sculptures that were brought to Britain and placed in the British Museum. Needless to say, in commenting on the findings the British Museum re-stated its position that the Parthenon Marbles would be staying in London.

The opinion poll was carried out by MORI for the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles and is the latest in a series of opinion polls, all of which have shown a majority of British people who have an opinion on the subject supporting the return of the Marbles to Athens. As usual, there was a large number of don't knows and campaigners for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece need to win over these people to our position.

New campaign supports return of Parthenon Marbles to Greece

January 2002

As a new campaign is launched to support the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, the director of the British Museum, Robert Anderson, has again insisted that they will be staying in the British Museum. Claiming that Elgin had been defamed by those seeking the return of the Marbles to Athens, Robertson wrote in the Times that "We are indebted to Elgin for having rescued the Parthenon sculptures and others from the Acropolis from the destruction they were suffering." Even if that were true it is no argument for keeping the Marbles in Britain now. There was nothing new in Anderson's article, the same tired arguments were brought out yet again. We all know that the British Museum is a large, international museum. We all know that it has a lot of visitors. But that does not justify keeping the Parthenon Marbles. He also repeated the fact that the British Museum is not allowed by law to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. But Parliament exists to make and to change laws and this law can be changed by Parliament, too.

The new campaign, Parthenon 2004, states its objectives as follows:

"The prime objective of the campaign is to persuade the UK Government to make a commitment to enable the Parthenon Marbles to be displayed in Athens. Thus, reuniting the sculptures with the remaining 40% in Athens, to restore the unity of the monument. This commitment should be made before the Athens Olympics in 2004.

"The campaign is not specifically asking for the Marbles to be physically returned before the Olympics, though this would be excellent if it were possible. It sees the physical return as being dependent on the preparation of a suitable home for the Marbles and will follow progress on the New Acropolis Museum. This should not, however, prevent a commitment in principle on the return from being made.

Campaign objectives:

"To raise the profile of the return of the Marbles as a public policy issue by placing articles in the principle national media outlets throughout 2002.
To engage Members of Parliament in the debate about the Marbles by encouraging constituents to send letters and postcards.
To engage members of the public in the debate about the Marbles by distributing campaign packs.
To enlist the support of well-known public figures for the case for return.
To enlist the support of academics for the case for return.
To encourage debate about the Marbles in educational settings."

Supporters of the campaign to return the marbles include actors Janet Suzman, Vanessa Redgrave, Joanna Lumley,
Dame Judi Dench and Sir Sean Connery, as well as politicians including former sports minister Tony Banks.

German cultural gift to the Greeks

The German Government decided as a gesture of good will and in view of the Olympic Games in Greece in 2004 to announce to Prime Minister Simitis, during his three-day official visit to Germany, that they propose to return to Greece architectural members that belong to the Philippian Monument in Olympia. Mr. Simitis expressed the wish to visit the famous Pergamon Museum in Berlin and Mr.Shroder will take this opportunity to make the announcement. It seems that these architectural members were actually given to the Germans under the Greco-German agreement of 1875 but in spite of the legitimate acquisition the German Government decided to return them and furthermore to re-integrate them in the reconstruction of the monument at the expense of the German State. Under the current Greco-German cultural agreement the Pergamon Museum of Berlin will create a permanent exhibition space where Greece will undertake to loan, at regular intervals, significant archaeological artefacts from Greece. The first such exhibition will contain important recent finds from Pheidias workshop in Athens.

Eleni Cubitt
8 June 2001

Historical note

In 1875 Greece signed with Germany an agreement allowing German archaeologists to dig up the historical site of Olympia where the Olympic Games were held in antiquity. The excavations revealed, amongst other finds, many priceless and stunning artefacts. As a gesture of gratitude, a thankful Greek Government decided in 1892 to offer Germany some of these, namely parts of the foundations of a monument dedicated by Philip II of Macedon in celebration of both his military and athletic victories. This was the "Philippeion", an elegant round building roofed with carved marble tiles and surmounted by a bronze poppyhead. The circular shape is reminiscent of the Macedonian beehive~tombs called "tholoi" a survival from the Mycenaean period. This Ionic Structure was adorned with five statues made of ivory and gold - materials normally reserved for the gods - representing Philip, his son Alexander the Great and other members of the Macedonian royal family. The "Philippeion" was built between 338 and 336 B.C. by architects who were obviously conversant with the style of the vaulted royal tombs of Macedonia.
The parts from the foundations of the 'Philippeion" were shipped in 1892 to Berlin, where the Pergamum Museum has ever since taken excellent care of those priceless exhibits.

Members of the House of Commons who support the Return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens

The British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles has established a database to record current members of the House of Commons who at some stage have registered their name in support of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens. The findings are dated 4 March 2001 and therefore relate to the previous Parliament. Although some MPs stood down at the last election, the change in the government's majority was so small that the figures below are still likely to be by and large correct.

The sources of the database include (a) a postal survey by the British committee in January 2001 (b) House of Commons Early Day Motions in 1996 and 1999 and (c) a postal survey by the British committee in 1984.

[The database does not include the MPs who responded to The Economist survey of March 2000, in which 183 MPs responded. Sixty-six per cent of members (and 84% of Labour members) said they would vote for the Marbles to be returned].

The database shows that 184 members of the House of Commons have registered their name in support of the Parthenon Marbles being returned to Athens

Of the 184 members -

ยง 150 are Labour members of the House of Commons
ยง 5 are Secretaries of State and members of the Cabinet
ยง 4 are Ministers
ยง 2 are Parliamentary Under Secretaries
ยง 15 are Parliamentary Private Secretaries
ยง 5 are Government Whips
ยง 17 are Privy Councillors
ยง 5 are members of the House of Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport (and include 4 of the 7 Labour members of the Committee)


British doctor backs return of Parthenon Marbles with swim from Delos to Paros

By Dr Chris Stockdale

I awoke to the alarm at 3.30 am on the morning of Saturday 1 July after a restless sleep. There followed the usual light breakfast, stretching exercises and checking of equipment prior to meeting the rest of the swim team at 5.30 am. We made our way by car to the port at Psarou, on the southern shore of Mykonos, prior to our departure to Delos.

On Delos we spent some time with the Mayor of Mykonos and other well-wishers. Whilst standing on the sacred harbour in sight of the ancient monuments of Delos, I was overcome with a sense of privilege and history. A short boat ride took me to the southern tip of Delos and I entered the historic waters just after 8 am. Now, the months of training would, hopefully, pay dividends and my anticipation and hopes for the event ahead almost overwhelmed me.

I knew that the prevailing wind would be northerly and hoped that this would push me forward. As one hour became the next, the force of the wind increased and, although as anticipated from the north, produced a roughened sea, which was unhelpful to me. I was unable to relax into the rhythm of a marathon swimmer -- so necessary for lengthy swims. Feeding times, too, were difficult because of the undulant nature of the sea and the difficulties in maintaining station with my support boat.

I knew after three or four hours that there was a battle ahead as the condition of the sea continued to deteriorate. I was determined to continue, never thinking of admitting defeat. The hours progressed slowly and with difficulty. After nearly eleven hours of swimming, having completed approximately sixteen nautical miles, we had to admit that a swim into the harbour at Naousa would not only be extremely arduous but also unsafe. At the request of the coastguards, I left the water and my escort boat took me the remaining short distance into the harbour. There I was greeted by a most welcome host of enthusiastic Parians and other friends who had come to see me home.

There followed the most wonderful and memorable celebrations, and the overwhelming feeling was that my task to promote further awareness about the quest for the Parthenon sculptures to be returned to Athens had been achieved.

I would be so grateful if, after my efforts, you would consider sponsoring this appeal on behalf of the Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.

I would like to end by thanking all those I love, and the many new friends I have made who made this wonderful experience possible, in particular my thoughts are united with those of Melina Mercouri.

Following in Elgin's footsteps

By Elena Korka, Archaeologist, Greek Ministry of Culture

It is almost two hundred years since the summer of 1802 when Lord Elgin left Athens with his family, having visited the Acropolis and removed from the Parthenon the sculptures he most admired, thus defacing the Parthenon for ever. Enchanted with what he had seen and before returning to his duties in Constantinople he decided to savour the Greek islands.

And so it was on 6 July 1802 that Elgin and his family arrived in Mykonos but as the island did not appeal to him he went on to Delos and the neighbouring island of Rhinea. Around the same time "Zacharias the Pirate" was amassing archaeological finds and was discovered and arrested. Undeterred by this, Lord Elgin visited the archaeological sites and took away a marble altar which was decorated with flowers and the heads of bulls. This altar is now in the collection at the British Museum.

From Delos he travelled to Paros and anchored there, and this is where Lady Elgin wrote that "this is the only part of the Aegean that can claim the title of the most picturesque and pretty island." Lord Elgin visited the marble mines of Paros and the famous cave in Anti Paros.

Dr. Chris Stockdale, a general practitioner in England -- a swimmer like Byron and a lover of ancient Greece -- has come from England and will swim the marathon distance from Delos to Paros, making an incredible human effort with the sole aim of propagating the message that these unique sculptures belonging to the Parthenon should be returned to their natural and historical environment.

The Parthenon Marbles also have their own "Odyssey" -- out of the 33 shipments that were needed to transport the whole of the collection of Lord Elgin to England, 17 were required just for the Parthenon sculptures. They were transported in wooden crates on ships belonging to the British Navy, and after travelling from Piraeas to Alexandria, Smyrni, Syria and Malta before reaching the shores of England it seems that Poseidon disapproved of the best sculptures being taken away from Greece and there was a bad storm with very large waves which capsized the boat of Elgin, Mentor, near to the coast of Kythira and some of these crates of sculptures remained at the bottom of the sea for almost two years.

We are sure that Chris Stockdale has a good relationshp with the god Poseidon; he will swim for 15 hours for the cause of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures, starting from Delos at 6 am and ending his epic struggle with the sea at the port of Naoussa in Paros where everyone will celebrate his safe arrival.

Paros, 1 July 2000

USA, Turkey back return of Marbles

On a recent visit to Greece, President Clinton expressed his support for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, while in January, the Turkish Foreign Minister, also on a visit to Athens, declared his government's support for the attempts by the Greek government to secure the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

Friends of the British Committee launched

September 18 1999 saw the launch of the association of the Friends of the British Committee in the presence of the Greek Minister of Culture and many well-known personalities from Britain and Greece. The aim of the association will be to give crucial and vital support to the 15-year old campaign of the British Committee for the restitution of the Parthenon sculptures to Greece. Full report on the International Support page.

Euro vote forms basis for new Greek request

On Friday 15 January 1999 a majority of Members of the European Parliament (339 of 626) signed a petition urging the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. This is the first time that the signatures of a majority of MEPs have been secured and represents another step forward in the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens.

Five Greek European lawmakers say they have new hopes of winning back the Parthenon marbles from Britain following the unprecedented support of Members of the European Parliament.

"Greece has established new grounds for its claims,'' Alekos Alavanos, a left-wing MP said. "It is an important decision that enables us to take the dispute beyond the realm of a bilateral dispute between Greece and Britain, and advance it within an EU framework,'' he added.

The resolution was supported in its majority by one-third or 35 percent of British lawmakers seated in the European Parliament.

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday congratulated five Greek Euro-MPs for their "extremely successful" involvement in the recent approval by the European Parliament of a petition calling for the return of the Elgin Marbles from London to Athens. "This initiative now permits me to bring the matter up for discussion before the council of culture ministers," Venizelos said in a letter to the Euro-MPs, who represent all five parties in the Greek parliament.

"Given the position of Great Britain, international pressure is of practical significance when it is transformed into pressure within the United Kingdom," he added. "I am certain - based on my information - that the matter will be tabled anew and on more auspicious terms in the House of Commons.

UK Opinion Poll backs return of Marbles to Greece

September 28 1998
By a majority of more than two to one , the British public say that they would vote to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece if a vote were held, according to a new MORI poll. Among Labour supporters, the margin was more than three to one and even among (right wing) Tories, the margin was three to two in favour of returning the Marbles.

Among Members of Parliament Labour MPs said, by nearly two to one, that in a free vote in the House of Commons they would vote to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

The figures in detail are given below.

The general public was asked "If there were a referendum on whether or not the Elgin Marbles should be returned to Greece how would you vote?"

  • 39% said they would vote to return them to Greece,
  • 15% said that they should remain in the British Museum and
  • 18% would not vote.
  • More than one person in four (28%) said they did not know how they would vote.

Support for the return of the Marbles was strongest among women (40-13%), middle-aged people (44% to 12%) and among Labour Party supporters (42% to 13%).

91 Members of Parliament were interviewed

  • 47% of all MPs interviewed favoured returning the Marbles with 44% against.
  • 57% of Labour MPs favoured returning the Marbles with 33% against.
  • Only 9% of Tory MPs favoured returning the Marbles with 83% against.

Fifteen per cent of the British adult population say they have seen the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum. Among adults with a degree or post-graduate qualification, a majority, 52% said they would vote to return them to Greece and only one in five (20%) said they should remain in the British Museum.

The opinion poll was part of the development work being carried out by William G. Stewart for another television programme on the return of the Parthenon Marbles. You can read about his previous programme on the "Supporters in the UK" page of this web site.

Labour government refuses to say how its policy was changed

When the Labour Party was in opposition, Mark Fisher, the Opposition Arts Minister at the time, committed a future Labour government to re-joining UNESCO and working out "the orderly return of the Elgin Marbles". He stated this publicly twice, in 1994 in the House of Commons and in a Channel 4 programme in 1996.

Following a statement from Tony Blair's office that the Marbles would stay in Britain, William Stewart wrote to three former Opposition Heritage Secretaries, Jack Cunningham, Mo Mowlam and Chris Smith. He asked:

  • when the official policy changed.
  • who changed it.
  • Whether any meetings were held.
  • if there are any records of these meetings.
No answers have been received.

Since Chris Smith became Culture Secretary he has told Mr Stewart that he cannot comment on anything decided while Jack Cunningham was Opposition Heritage Minister. But he has said that while in Opposition the Labour Party did consider the matter of the return of the Marbles. Well if it did, it did so without involving the Shadow Arts Minister!

Mr Smith has also told Mr Stewart that "discussions on the issue of the Parthenon sculptures will take place when appropriate and in the appropriate place". Mr Stewart's new programme on the Parthenon Marbles, produced by Regent Productions, will try to discover when and where is "appropriate".

(Information taken from Regent Productions press release) .

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