The Scout movement must learn from the “failings” of its founder Robert Baden-Powell, chief scout Bear Grylls says.
The adventurer was speaking following a row about whether to take down a statue of Baden-Powell in Poole, Dorset.
Amid claims of Baden-Powell being a supporter of Hitler, the local council initially said it would remove the statue to stop it being targeted.
Grylls said of the Scouts’ founder: “We most certainly do not celebrate Baden-Powell for his failings.”
In a statement on the Scouts website, the TV presenter continued: “We see them and we acknowledge them.
“And if he were here today we would disagree with him on many things, of that there is no doubt. And I suspect he would too.
“But we also recognise that Baden-Powell is part of our history, and history is nothing if we do not learn from it.”
He added: “Baden-Powell may have taken the first step in creating Scouting, but the journey continues today without him.
“We know where we came from but we are not going back.”
He said that he hoped Scouting statues, like the one in Poole, would remain in place “to remind us all of one thing – the huge positive influence that Scouting continues to bring to so many young people worldwide”.
There was a public outcry over the decision to remove the Baden-Powell statue temporarily, following its appearance on a target list, and it was instead boarded up.
Baden-Powell had been criticised by campaigners who have accused him of racism, homophobia and support for Adolf Hitler – although this characterisation of him has been rejected by his biographer.
There had been fears over the monument since Black Live Matter protesters tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol last weekend.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council leader Vikki Slade said she and her 15-year-old daughter had been verbally abused after giving interviews about the monument’s removal.
A petition to keep it in place gained more then 40,000 signatures and protesters gathered at the quayside to show support for the statue on Thursday, with some camping overnight to ensure it was not vandalised.
Council deputy leader Mark Howell said the decision to board it up temporarily was made because “some people were suspicious the council might not put it back”.
Supporters of the statue remaining in place include Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, who congratulated protesters who “stepped forward to defend modern-day values, to defend [against] any vandalism and also – dare I say it – a rush to remove this statue without actually any debate”.