A wealthy Tory MP is facing demands to pay reparations for his family’s part in the Caribbean slave trade after the Observer revealed that he now controls the plantation where his ancestors created the first slave-worked sugar plantation in the British empire almost 400 years ago.
The MP for South Dorset, Richard Drax, has inherited the 250-hectare Drax Hall plantation in Barbados from his father, inquiries by the Observer have established. His father died in 2017. Drax has not yet declared the land or its properties in the parliamentary register of members’ interests.
Last week, leading figures in the Caribbean Community’s (Caricom) Reparations Commission described the Drax Hall plantation as a “killing field” and a “crime scene” from the tens of thousands of African slaves who died there in terrible conditions between 1640 and 1836. The Draxes also owned a slave plantation in Jamaica which they sold in the 18th century.
Sir Hilary Beckles, a prominent Barbadian historian of slavery, said Drax must acknowledge the wealth brought to the family by slavery. “If Richard Drax was in front of me now, I would say: ‘Mr Drax, the people of Barbados and Jamaica are entitled to reparatory justice.’”