Fuming LBC callers go head-to-head in blistering row over 'Colston Four' verdict

6 January 2022, 08:15 | Updated: 6 January 2022, 09:42

By Asher McShane

Two LBC callers clashed in fiery fashion this morning amid a blistering row over the toppling over the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol.

Four defendants accused of causing criminal damage for pulling down Edward Colston's statue were found not guilty yesterday.

The so-called "Colston Four" were cleared after prosecutors charged them over the toppling of the slave trader's monument in Bristol during a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020.

Rhian Graham, 30, Milo Ponsford, 26, Sage Willoughby, 22, and Jake Skuse, 33, laughed with relief when the verdicts were returned as cheers went up from the public gallery yesterday.

But as these LBC callers show, people are still split on the issue.

Watch: 'We can't have mob rule', Grant Shapps tells LBC after Colston Four cleared

One caller, Kevin in Hampstead said the verdict was an “absolute disgrace for British justice” telling Nick Ferrari, “it’s criminal damage, no-one can disagree with that.”

But Simon in Liverpool hit back: “I absolutely disagree. It’s fantastic they tore that down. Why should they celebrate and put a statue up to a murderer who committed the most evil crime against men and women and children.”

Kevin hit back: “Do we remove Nelson Mandela’s statue because he’s had a rather chequered past?”

“Nelson Mandela brought about the change of apartheid,” Simon said.

“Through acts of terror,” Nick interjects

The row descended with the callers clearly split and Nick offered Kevin the final word asking “do we need an arbitrary panel?”

Kevin said: “There’s no grey areas here, I have no more to say.”

As the group were cleared yesterday, they hugged supporters who had waited outside Bristol Crown Court.

Sage Willoughby said: "They were whitewashing history by calling him a f***ing virtuous man, sorry to swear, we didn't change history, we rectified history."

He added: "This is a victory for Bristol, this is a victory for racial equality and it's a victory for anybody who wants to be on the right side of history."

"They lied, we illuminated history," added Ms Graham, who praised the other protesters present on the day the statue was toppled.

"We just want to say thank you to so many people because we have never been alone in this journey, we have been so supported and we are such a small part of this really," she said.

"There were so many people that day, and so many people reverberating across the world in response to it."

Colston, a merchant who lived in the 17th and early 18th century, made his fortune through the slave trade.

He donated money to various institutions in Bristol, with buildings often bearing his name, though there has been a drive in the modern era to disassociate from him. That included a bid to remove his controversial statue.

It was ripped down then dragged and rolled about 500 metres to be dumped in the harbour during a protest.

The image became an iconic scene in the wave of anti-racism demonstrations that took place throughout the UK, and globally, after the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in the US.

It was even brought up during Mr Floyd's funeral.

Hundreds were present at the scene but only the four defendants were charged with criminal damage.

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