THE National Trust for Scotland has defended Neil Oliver after he declared his “love” for a historian repeatedly accused of racism and liked a Twitter post which seemed to criticise the Black Lives Matter movement.

Oliver shared his admiration for David Starkey, who has faced multiple allegations of discrimination in recent years and caused outrage yesterday after claiming that slavery cannot be considered genocide because “so many damn blacks survived”.

NTS president Oliver also liked a tweet, posted yesterday, which praised a member of a sporting team for seemingly not “taking a knee”, a pose which has become synonymous with the anti-racism Black Lives Matter movement.

The trust declined to condemn Oliver, saying only that the views expressed were not representative of the organisation.

Starkey made the comments in an interview with Reasoned, a media group fronted by former Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes. Responding to a post from Grimes promoting the interview with Starkey on Monday, Oliver posted: “Tell him I love him, by all means.”

In the interview, a video of which was published on YouTube yesterday, Starkey said: “Slavery was not genocide otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or Britain would there? An awful lot of them survived.”

He added: “The honest teaching of the British empire is to say it was the first key stage of world globalisation. It was probably the most important moment in human history and it is still with us.

“Its consequences are still [felt] and generally speaking in most ways actually fruitful.

“The idea that slavery ... is this kind of terrible disease and we dare not speak its name, it only dare not speak its name [sic] because we settled it nearly 200 years ago.”

The comments were widely condemned. Tory MP Sajid Javid tweeted: “We are the most successful multi-racial democracy in the world and have much to be proud of.

“But David Starkey’s racist comments (‘so many damn blacks’) are a reminder of the appalling views that still exist.”

Oliver sparked anger last month after claiming the removal of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol was the first step to the reintroduction of the guillotine.

READ MORE: BBC's Neil Oliver interview on racist statues draws criticism

Yesterday it emerged that he had liked a tweet showing one member of a sporting team seemingly not participating in a BLM-style protest, standing upright while her team-mates kneeled. The caption read: “The girl in the middle is my new hero.”

A spokesperson for the National Trust for Scotland commented: “Neil holds a voluntary, unpaid position with the trust as its president – but that doesn’t mean he’s just a figurehead who’s required to say and do nothing when he isn’t representing us in that capacity.

“He’s also a journalist and commentator in his own right with his own views and opinions. When stating his personal views, as in these recent cases, he is not representing the trust.

“When he is speaking for us, he is eloquent communicator of our work, responsibilities and achievements.”