Statue by paedophile artist will remain in place in central London, says BBC

2 Screenshot 2022 01 12 175046

A controversial statue made by a paedophile artist at the Broadcasting House in central London will remain in place, the BBC has said.

It comes after a protester was arrested on Wednesday (12 January) for allegedly attempting to smash the 88-year-old statue that sits above the BBC’s headquarters with a hammer.

Officers found a man scaling the building in Portland Place at approximately 4.15pm, he was eventually pulled down from the building with the help of London fire brigade after a four-hour standoff.

READ MORE: Statue outside BBC offices ‘smashed up’ by man shouting ‘war paedo protectors’

The man had scaled the side of the building to reach the statue

Footage taken at the time of the incident showed the man repeatedly striking the statue with a hammer, with bits of stone flying off while shouting “war paedo protectors.”

Someone can be heard in the crowd angrily shouting “stop it.”

The 10-foot carving depicts Prospero and a naked Ariel from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and was unveiled outside the BBC’s Broadcasting House in 1933.

The naked depiction of Ariel as a child was controversial from the date of its installation, and concerned campaigners have called for it to be taken down for years.

Its sculptor, Eric Gill, was a famous British artist and designer from the 20th century but after his death in 1940, personal diaries were published decades later that revealed the well-known paedophile sexually abused “his daughters, sisters and dog”, according to a biography on the Tate website.

However, the broadcaster said in a statement that it has no plans to remove the statue.

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The broadcaster said: “When the statue was commissioned, Ariel—as the spirit of the air—was seen as an appropriate symbol for the new dawn of broadcasting.

“The BBC doesn’t condone the views or actions of Eric Gill. Clearly there are debates about whether you can separate the work of an artist from the art itself. We think the right thing to do is for people to have those discussions. We don’t think the right approach is to damage the artwork itself.”

The recent damage to the statue has divided the public over its future fate outside of the BBC’s headquarters.

Katie Razzall, BBC news culture editor, tweeted a video of the incident and said: “Outside BBC right now a man is trying to smash up Eric Gill statue while another man live streams talking about paedophiles. Gill’s horrific crimes are well known. But is this the way?”

Thousands of people have since commented on the journalists tweet with their own views.

One wrote: “Yes. Yes it is. Because I don’t think the BBC – or any building – should have a statue of a man with a child created by a known paedophile whose work was based on the incestuous abuse of his own daughters as its figurehead.”

Another said: “Well, just look at the statue and then add to that the knowledge of what Gill did and maybe you can understand why this man is trying to destroy it? I’m not a fan of destroying statues but I can’t get mad about this tbh [to be honest].”

Following the incident outside the Broadcasting House, the Met said in a statement: “A 54-year-old man was checked by London Ambulance Service before being arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and taken into custody.

“A 43-year-old man was earlier arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

“Both were subsequently bailed pending further enquiries to a date in early February.”

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