RHS Statement on Council Resolution

3 July 2020

Today, at a regularly scheduled Council meeting, the Royal Historical Society considered a motion under Article VIII of its by-laws, relating to the conduct of a Fellow. As a registered charity, we have proceeded according to our legally binding by-laws in the discussion of this matter and the balloting of Council.

We received numerous communications from Fellows and Members of the Society forcefully registering their objections to Dr David Starkey’s comments, and to his Fellowship status.

Following discussion by our elected Council and officers, it was unanimously resolved by ballot that these comments were clearly (as per the wording of Article VIII) “inconsistent with membership of the Society”.

Our by-laws state:
‘If the conduct of any Fellow, Associate or Member, or of any elected Officer or Councillor, shall appear to the Council to be inconsistent with membership of the Society, or with the office held, or with membership of the Council, the Council may, by ballot and by the vote of not less than two-thirds of the members of Council present and voting, resolve that he/she be requested to resign. A Fellow, Associate, Member, elected Officer, or Councillor so requested shall have the right of appeal to a Special Meeting of the Society, at which the question shall be decided by ballot; and if the recommendation of the Council be approved by the vote of two-thirds of the Fellows present and voting this shall take immediate effect as if the resignation so requested had been received.’

As a result, the Royal Historical Society has today, 3 July 2020, resolved that Dr Starkey be requested to resign his fellowship of the Royal Historical Society with immediate effect. This decision and the request that he resign his Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society have today been communicated to Dr Starkey.

RHS President Professor Margot Finn states: “We unequivocally condemn Dr Starkey’s utterly repugnant comments. The Royal Historical Society has a clearly articulated commitment to equality. This commitment includes a categorical and unequivocal rejection of racism, which these remarks clearly display. Our work to identify and challenge inequality (including racism) in our discipline is proactive and ongoing.”

Update: On Monday 13 July 2020, in response to Council’s resolution of 3 July 2020, Dr Starkey tendered his resignation of his Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society.