Hammer-wielding vandal smashes controversial statue by abuser Eric Gill outside BBC HQ

12 January 2022, 19:05 | Updated: 13 January 2022, 07:51

By Sophie Barnett

A man has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage after the controversial Ariel and Prospero statue in central London, which was sculpted by abuser Eric Gill, was smashed with a hammer.

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Videos on social media show a man attacking the statue outside of the BBC's Broadcasting House in Westminster on Wednesday.

The man appears to repeatedly strike the statue with a hammer, with bits of stone flying off.

He had allegedly written the words "Time to go was 1989" and "noose all paedos" on to parts of the figures.

Images captured at the scene appear to show the penis of the child in the statue has been removed.

He can be heard shouting: "War paedo protectors".

The Metropolitan Police said officers were called at around 4.15pm to Broadcasting House in Portland Street, where a man had used a ladder to reach the 10ft tall figures above the front entrance.

Read more: Colston Four say 'we rectified history' as they're cleared over statue toppling

A man has been seen smashing a statue with a hammer in central London.
A man has been seen smashing a statue with a hammer in central London. Picture: Alamy

The building had been cordoned off and road closures were put in place. These have since been lifted.

A spokesman for the Met said the man came down with assistance from the London Fire Brigade at around 8.45pm.

He was checked by paramedics before being arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and taken into custody, police said.

The spokesman added: "The property owners are examining any damage to the statue and building.

"Another man was earlier arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage. He also remains in custody."

Read more: Who was Edward Colston? The slave trader behind the toppled Bristol statue

The statue was sculpted by Eric Gill, who is said to have sexually abused two of his daughters.

Gill, who died in Uxbridge in 1940, revealed in his personal diaries that he sexually abused his daughters and his family dog.

The statue, which was sculpted by Gill, was installed in 1933, according to the BBC.

A biography on the Tate museum website said: "His religious views and subject matter contrast with his sexual behaviour, including his erotic art, and (as mentioned in his own diaries) his extramarital affairs and sexual abuse of his daughters, sisters and dog."

Nearly 2,500 people have previously signed a petition demanding the removal of the sculpture on the website of political activist group 38 Degrees.

A spokeswoman for the BBC declined to comment.

The incident comes in the wake of the Colston Four case - which saw a jury clear four people of criminal damage after they pulled down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

The bronze memorial to the 17th century figure was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 7 2020, before being rolled into the water.

The four people responsible were acquitted on January 5 following an 11-day trial at the Old Bailey.