Man damages BBC headquarters statue with hammer

A man has taken a hammer to a statue on the BBC's Broadcasting House in central London.

The Prospero and Ariel statue was carved by Eric Gill and has been on display at the BBC since 1933.

There has been a campaign to have the statue removed for several years, because the sculptor recorded sexually abusing his daughters in his diaries.

Police were called to the scene at about 16:15 GMT and the man was brought down about four hours later.

BBC staff reported hearing the man shout "paedophile" as he struck the statue at Broadcasting House, which is connected to New Broadcasting House, the BBC's main headquarters.

A man attacks the Prospero and Ariel statue outside Broadcasting HousePA Media

A spokesman for the Met said the man was brought down with the help of a fire crew.

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He was checked over by ambulance workers before being arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and taken into custody, he added.

He said the property owners were examining any damage to the statue and building.

Earlier the force said another man had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

A spokeswoman for the BBC declined to comment.

In recent years, groups such as QAnon have campaigned against the statue carved by Gill, who died in 1940.

The Prospero and Ariel statue carved by Eric Gill, which adorns the BBC's Broadcasting House

The attack on the statue comes a week after four people accused of illegally removing a statue of 17th Century slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol were cleared of criminal damage.

It happened during a Black Lives Matter protest in the city in 2020, during a widespread debate about the place of certain historical statues in modern society.

Presentational grey line

The artwork versus the artist

By Katie Razzall, culture editor

What defines an artist – their work or their life? Ever since Eric Gill's crimes have come to light, it's been something to ponder as you walk into the BBC's Old Broadcasting House, entering the building under his looming Prospero and Ariel.

But when I arrived at work on Wednesday afternoon, a ladder was leaning up against the building and a man stood on the plinth above the doorway, shouting "paedophile" and attacking the statue with a hammer, feet first.

He was also trying to detach the 10ft (3m) sculpture from whatever anchors it to the BBC offices. On the pavement, another man livestreamed it.

With every loud smash, there'd be a moan or a shout of "stop" from someone in the gathering crowd below. It felt brutal; an assault on beauty.

Eric Gill was a monster, a depraved paedophile who abused his daughters and others. But as a sculptor he made wondrous creations.

At a time when statues across the country are being reassessed, there'll be those who believe that if it's legal to tear down a monument to a prominent slaver, as happened in Bristol, it is also time to do the same to an artwork by a man who committed horrific sexual crimes. If that's the case though, where does it end?

Artmotion Spain

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