British Museum director Hartwig Fischer has announced he will be stepping down from his position with immediate effect.
Mr Fischer’s resignation follows the museum’s announcement last week that it had sacked a member of staff a number of its treasures were reported “missing, stolen or damaged”.
He previously announced last month that he would be resigning next year.
The boss of the iconic museum said he was stepping down after coming to the conclusion it was ”evident” that the British Museum did not respond as ”comprehensively” as it should have in response to the warnings about the thefts in 2021.
He said in a statement: “Over the last few days I have been reviewing in detail the events around the thefts from the British Museum and the investigation into them.
“It is evident that the British Museum did not respond as comprehensively as it should have in response to the warnings in 2021, and to the problem that has now fully emerged.
“I have offered my resignation to the chairman of the trustees, and will step down as soon as the board have established an interim leadership arrangement. This will remain in place until a new director is chosen.
“The situation facing the museum is of the utmost seriousness. I sincerely believe it will come through this moment and emerge stronger, but sadly I have come to the conclusion that my presence is proving a distraction.
“That is the last thing I would want. Over the last seven years I have been privileged to work with some of the most talented and dedicated public servants.”