Former leader of Moray Council George Alexander has called on the local authority to consider its involvement in an education fund that has been linked to the slave trade.
Forres councillor Mr Alexander has asked officials to prepare a report on the Dick Bequest after we exclusively revealed the truth about the origins of the £1.7 million trust.
He said there needs to be a “discussion” about its future, in the wake of research by historians David Alston and Donald Morrison.
Mr Alexander said “maybe we should be refocusing and considering how we use the money”.
The bequest was established following the death in 1828 of Forres-born merchant James Dick, who left almost £120,000 for educational development in Aberdeenshire, Banff and Moray.
It continues to distribute grants to help teachers in Aberdeenshire and Moray develop their skills through travel or study, and also supports the purchase of school equipment.
However, extensive research by Mr Alston and Mr Morrison has now revealed that Mr Dick made his fortune as a slave trader in Jamaica.
The trust is run by 10 governors, of which five are elected by the Society of Writers to the Signet, two by the senate of Aberdeen University, and three by Aberdeenshire and Moray councils.
The governors say they do not have the authority to change its use because its “purposes and procedures” are directed by central government.
However, Mr Alexander believes there should be a debate about the future of the fund, and he raised it at a meeting of Moray Council this week.
“I brought it up mainly because I felt it was something we should be considering as a council, because Moray has benefited hugely from the Dick Bequest,” he said.
“I just wondered if we should be discussing how best to progress, after what the historian David Alston appears to have uncovered.
“There’s a wide spectrum of views on this. Some people take the attitude that, well, the benefits of the slave trade are basically endemic in the whole of the British culture, really, especially the built culture.
“But I know the Dick Bequest is used for putting equipment into schools, for putting teachers on trips, putting pupils on trips, and maybe we should be refocusing and considering how we use the money.
“Now, the legal people will tell you there is absolutely nothing we can do, it’s all written down, how it can be used, but are we going to be dictated to by something that was decided 200 years ago?”
Mr Alexander added: “There could be an opportunity here to use the money to educate our kids.
“I think, for far too long, we’ve been far too reticent about discussing the benefits that have accrued to Scotland as a result of the slave trade.
“I was taught at school 60 years ago about slavery and the Caribbean but I was never, ever taught anything about how much Scotland – and the rest of the UK, but particularly in parts of Scotland – benefited from it.”