The proposal to develop an Iraqi-British project to protect and promote cultural heritage in Southern Iraq was first mooted at a lunch in the British Museum on 24 September 2007, involving Major-General Barney White-Spunner, Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, and John Curtis, Keeper of the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum. The lunch had been arranged to provide Major-General White-Spunner with recent information about the state of the Iraqi cultural heritage, as he was due to be deployed to Iraq in February 2008 as Commander-in-Chief of British troops and General Officer Commanding the Multi-National Division South-East. At the lunch, it was suggested that the greatest need would be to arrange for the inspection of archaeological sites and, if necessary, to arrange for the protection of them, and also to consider facilitating the reopening of some provincial museums. It is known that archaeological sites particularly in Southern Iraq suffered grievously from looting, particularly after the Second Gulf War, and most provincial museums were sacked following the First Gulf War in 1991 and again in 2003. Major-General White-Spunner immediately recognised the importance of these proposals and appointed a project manager, Major Hugo Clarke, to work up a scheme with John Curtis. The project has been made possible by a generous grant from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, that has covered all costs except those incurred in Iraq, which have been met by the British Army.