Fellows for the heritage charity the Society of Antiquaries have rejected proposals from the charity’s board to remove a sex offender from its membership.
In a meeting of the 312-year-old charity last month, the fellows rejected the opportunity to remove Hubert Chesshyre, a former officer of arms, as a fellow after the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse published proceedings earlier this year confirming that he had committed two acts of gross indecency with a minor.
Chesshyre had not been tried in 2015 over the alleged offences – which dated back to between 1995 and 1998 – as he was considered unfit to stand trial because of his advanced age and ill health, a statement from the charity said.
But in a trial of the facts Snaresbrook Crown Court found that Chesshyre had committed the two acts of gross indecency. He was given an absolute discharge because of his inability to stand trial.
The IICSA’s decision to publish the proceedings of the court case led to the Honours and Appointments Secretariat recommending that Chesshyre have any honours forfeited.
A number of fellows subsequently asked for a vote on Chesshyre’s removal from the charity, and the society’s council put the resolution forward unanimously.
But the fellows rejected the resolution. A spokeswoman for the charity said only a small number of fellows had attended the meeting and many others were unable to attend because the meeting was held at short notice.
She said: "The society intends to continue to fulfil its charitable objectives, including by encouraging young people to become involved in its activities, in environments that are safe for them. This makes the acts which Mr Chesshyre was found by the court to have committed particularly harmful.
"Council will consider further the implications of fellows’ decision to reject the resolution to remove Mr Chesshyre and recognises that this case has shown the need to modernise the socety’s statutes and governance procedures."