Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Boy Scout founder Lord Baden-Powell 'executed PoW'

Baden-Powell in 1896
Baden-Powell founded the Scouting movement in 1907

Documents suggesting that Boy Scout founder Lord Baden-Powell illegally executed a prisoner-of-war have been sold for £3,740.

Papers relating to the Second Matabele War in 1896 say Baden-Powell, then a Colonel in the British Army, ordered the shooting of an African chief.

The chief, Uwini, had been promised his life would be spared if he surrendered.

The papers reached double their expected price at auction in South Cerney, Gloucestershire.

An inquiry at the time of the conflict into the affair exonerated Baden-Powell.

'Old school tie'

However, the inquiry papers, which were originally owned by his commanding officer, Sir Frederick Carrington, make it clear that the future scouting leader knew Uwini had been promised safe conduct.

Baden-Powell said he took action to save lives and because his commander was too distant to consult.

Uwini led a rebellion by Africans against white settlement in what is now Zimbabwe.

Auctioneer Chris Albury said: "The character witness statements give a strong sense of the old school tie network banding together and making Baden-Powell a hero rather than a villain."

Robin Clay, Baden-Powell's grandson, told The Times newspaper: "We all make mistakes. In time of war emotions are aroused and you do what you think at the time."

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