Benedict Cumberbatch could face legal action, might pay reparations for family's slave trade history; READ

Benedict Cumberbatch, popularly known as Sherlock Holmes amongst his fans, might land in legal trouble owing to his family’s slave trade history in Barbados.

Published on Jan 03, 2023   |  05:16 AM IST  |  144.6K
Benedict Cumberbatch might land in legal trouble owing to his family’s slave trade history in Barbados. (Image: Getty)
Benedict Cumberbatch might land in legal trouble owing to his family’s slave trade history in Barbados. (Image: Getty)

Popular Hollywood actor Benedict Cumberbatch is now in legal trouble. If news reports are to be believed, the family of the Academy Award-nominated actor is facing potential legal action over its historical links to the slave trade in Barbados. 

Have a look at the details of the case here. 

1. What is the case against Benedict Cumberbatch and his family all about?

If a news report by DailyO is to be believed, “Cumberbatch’s seventh great-grandfather bought the Cleland plantation in the north of Barbados in 1728, which housed 250 slaves until the abolition of slavery in 1834. The slave plantation is reported to have made the Cumberbatch family a small fortune.”

2. Where did the case against Benedict Cumberbatch and his family erupt? 

The case against Benedict Cumberbatch and his family draws its roots from the allegations posed on British Conservative MP Richard Drax. In November last year, the BBC reported that Richard Drax is facing demands to pay compensation for the role of his ancestors in the slave trade. Reports suggest that Drax inherited the Drax Hall plantation in Barbados after his father's death in 2017. And now, as the investigation deepens, reports suggest that this case has connections with Benedict’s family as well. 

To add more perspective, both Richard Drax and Benedict Cumberbatch were born in London, United Kingdom. 

3. What action is the Barbados government planning to take against Richard Drax, Benedict Cumberbatch, and his family?

As the hate campaign against Benedict and Richard Drax grows louder in the Caribbean nation, the Barbados government is likely to insist the two celebrities pay reparations for slavery over historical links to a sugar plantation in Barbados,’ according to The Telegraph.

“Barbados's National Task Force on Reparations, part of the Caricom Reparations Commission (Caricom), previously focused on seeking reparations from colonial powers and wealthy institutions that made hefty profits from slavery,” The Guardian reported.

“Recently, however, it singled out a specific family for the first time, targeting the British Conservative MP Richard Drax over his family's ownership of a vast sugar plantation on the island,” per The Guardian.

Barbados will seek compensation from an international arbitration court in case Drax refuses.

Speaking exclusively to The Telegraph, David Comissiong, the Barbados ambassador to Caricom told The Guardian last month that “Drax and other families could face litigation if they don't agree to pay reparations.”

When Telegraph insisted to speak on the involvement of the Sherlock actor in the case, David Comissiong did not rule out pursuing the investigation with this angle. 

4. Did Benedict Cumberbatch ever speak in public about his family’s ties with Barbados? 

In 2018, Benedict spoke candidly to the Telegraph about his family’s history. He told the publication: “We have our past – you don't have to look far to see the slave-owning past. We were part of the whole sugar industry, which is a shocker."

5. Benedict Cumberbatch and his career progression in 2022

The 46-year-old actor was last seen in the American film ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ in 2022. At the moment, he is working on the film ‘The End We Start From’ which is an adaptation of the Megan Hunter novel of the same name. 

Talking about his past works, Cumberbatch previously essayed the role of a slave owner in the Oscar-winning 2013 movie "12 Years a Slave." 

Also Read: The Hood: Benedict Cumberbatch set to team up with Paul Greengrass for upcoming period drama

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