Cecil Rhodes statue to stay standing at Oxford University until at least 2021

21 July 2020, 19:26

The controversial statue is now expected to stay in place until at least next year
The controversial statue is now expected to stay in place until at least next year. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

The controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes will stay standing at Oxford University until at least 2021.

A Commission set up to examine the statue's place outside Oriel College will publish its findings in January - meaning no action will be taken before this time.

It comes after the college's governing body "expressed their wish" to remove the statue of the British imperialist last month.

Broadcaster Zeinab Badawi, former Conservative shadow culture secretary Peter Ainsworth and Oriel College's alumni advisory committee chairman Geoffrey Austin are due to be part of the inquiry group discussing the issue.

In the meantime, a public notice is due to be pinned next to the statue to give details about the Commission, and for how people can submit both written and oral views.

There has been a long-running campaign to take down the statue - surviving one in 2016 - and was revived again earlier this year amid Black Lives Matter protests.

In a statement, Carole Souter, the master of St Cross College and chairwoman of the Commission, said she felt "personal gratitude" to Oriel College and commissioners for undertaking the new project.

She added: "Each of them has already made a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge, access and diversity within their relevant sphere of expertise, and I look forward to chairing their discussions on how the Rhodes legacy can best inform the future of Oriel College."

Meanwhile, The Rhodes Must Fall campaign group added: "This is potentially an epoch-defining moment at Oxford.

"As such, we believe that our actions moving forward must give confidence to the voices who will come after us, so that they too can align themselves with a decolonial movement.

"We are determined that if we can get this process 'right' at Oxford, then it will be a hallmark for and testament to, the hopes and aspirations of decolonial movements everywhere."