NEIL Oliver has announced he is stepping down as president of the National Trust for Scotland.

The TV presenter was heavily criticised last week after The National revealed he had liked an anti-Black Lives Matter tweet. 

He will leave his post in September.

Oliver says he had always planned to do no more than a three-year stint at the head of the heritage organisation.

In a statement, the celebrity commentator said: “My three-year term as president comes to an end in September and, as I had intended, I will be stepping down from the role at the time. It’s been a complete privilege to work throughout the term and represent the Trust.

“I will look forward to seeing who replaces me in October and they will have my full support.”

Last Monday, Oliver replied to a post from former Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes promoting an interview with Starkey, writing: “Tell him I love him, by all means.”

The National:

During that interview – which was broadcast after Oliver's comment – Starkey claimed slavery “was not genocide otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or Britain”.

READ MORE: NTS doubles down on Neil Oliver defence amid David Starkey row

The comments, condemned as racist, were the latest in a series of discriminatory remarks made by the historian. In 2015, Cambridge University was forced to take down an online fundraising video fronted by Starkey after staff and students claimed he had been “aggressively racist”.

Oliver also liked a tweet, posted on Wednesday, 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 National:

NTS condemned David Starkey’s “offensive” comments about slavery, but declined to criticise its president. A spokesperson told The National: “When stating his personal views, as in these recent cases, he is not representing the trust.”

Commenting on Oliver’s announcement that he will stand down, NTS chairman Sir Mark Jones, said: “Throughout his busy career as a broadcaster and author Neil has championed Scotland and its heritage and we are extremely grateful to him for giving up so much of his valuable time to represent the Trust.

“Since his appointment in 2017, he has striven to promote our work and achievements and in doing so elicited support on our behalf from many generous donors.”

Oliver has previously caused controversy by voicing hardline anti-independence views.

In 2015, he described the prospect of a second referendum as a “cancerous presence” and branding former First Minister Alex Salmond a “round, wrecking ball of a man, shaped only to do damage”.