The College proposed the relocation of the Rustat plaque in autumn 2020Timur Rakhimov

Jesus College will not have to pay the legal costs of a group of alumni who opposed the College moving the Rustat memorial from the College chapel.

Rustat, one of the College’s biggest benefactors, was an investor in both the Royal African Company and the Royal Adventurers, corporations that trafficked and traded enslaved Africans.

The College proposed the relocation of the Rustat plaque in autumn 2020, following a report from their Legacy of Slavery Working Party, and in the context of world-wide anti-racism protests. 

However, the judge of the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Ely,  David Hodge QC, found that the College’s case was based on the “false narrative the Rustat had amassed much of his wealth from the slave trade, and that it was money from this source that he used to benefit the college.”

Jesus’ opponents then applied to have their costs met by the College on the grounds that the initial application to remove the plaque was “unreasonable”.

The court denied this application, with the court’s judge praising the College for bringing the case.


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He wrote that by being “pro-active in identifying, and addressing, potential sources of injustice”, the College had followed the Anglican mission “to transform unjust structures of society”.

Over the course of the trial, Jesus amassed costs of £120 000. Their opponents’ fees came to £42,300.

As the applicant in the case, Jesus has to cover their own costs, and the costs of the court, but not the costs of their opponents.