Wednesday, 28 March 2012

FLO Filmed Trying to Buy Antiquities?

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Newton Abbot metal detectorist Graham Chetwynd  made the following announcement on the Heritage Action Facebook page a while back:
 you do have good and bad in everything i have a FLO on dvd film of my mate's pocket camera offering us under counter deals for his own collection for item's we have found 1 being a palistave axe head and 1 socketed.
Mr Chetwynd claims that "the footage" (surely it would be a digital file, or do metal detectorists have Stone Age video equipment?) "will be seen when it is arranged to have the biggest impact". I would say the eve of "Britain's Secret Treasures" coming out was just such a time if Mr Chetwynd wanted to do the PAS maximum damage.

If the FLO was offering to buy items he knew were stolen (nighthawked, from an unreported hoard) then yes that would be illegal (although how do we know that he did not also have a hidden camera running and this was part of a PAS sting?). If however the two objects were the product of legal metal detecting, then there is in fact nothing illegal about an FLO offering to buy them for a collection. Collecting artefacts is not illegal in England and Wales. That is the whole point of the PAS. I would not be surprised if a number of FLOs had private collections of archaeological artefacts (perhaps the PAS could supply some figures on that). If they have been legally obtained and properly dealt with, there is not even anything in the IFA Code of Practice which says they cannot. So what is the problem, what will this alleged "film" achieve? It might open up the debate about collecting though. Bring it on.

Vignette: caught on camera

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