Croydon Council warned over ceramics sell-off plan

Porcelain cake box – Wanli period 1573 -1619 The collection dates from Neolithic times to the 19th Century

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A body for the museum industry has ruled a south London council should face disciplinary action over its plans to sell some of its antique Chinese ceramics collection.

Croydon Council plans to auction 24 high value vases, bowls and bottles.

The Museums Association said Croydon was in "breach of the code of ethics".

The 230-piece collection, which includes Ming dynasty bowls, was sold to Croydon by local businessman Raymond Riesco in 1959.

'Strong case'

The Association's ethics committee is to ask council representatives to attend a disciplinary hearing.

Mark Taylor, director of the organisation, said the case against Croydon was "very strong".

"They will be given a chance to account for themselves at the hearing before we make a decision," he said.

"If the panel then decide that the disposal contravenes the code of ethics, they have the power to recommend expulsion from the Museums Association."

The body sets ethical standards for museums and is seen as a benchmark for the industry.

Croydon's items will be auctioned in Hong Kong in November.

'Difficult decision'

The council says it hopes the sale will raise money towards redeveloping Fairfield Halls, a 50-year-old arts centre which has a concert hall, theatre and gallery.

The remaining 206 pieces of the collection are still on show for the public to see.

In July, councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, families and learning, said: "Clearly this has been a difficult decision to make and one that we have not taken lightly."

Arts Council England has also criticised the sale.

It wrote to Croydon Council earlier this year warning that such a move fell short of national museum standards.

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