BBC says statue by paedophile artist will remain in place at Broadcasting House

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Critics of the decision raised fears the verdict would embolden activists to target controversial statues over matters of conscience.

The 10ft-tall Ariel and Prospero sculpture, depicting characters from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, became controversial for its depiction of a young male nude from the date of its installation at the BBC’s headquarters in 1933.

It become more controversial after it was revealed in a 1989 biography that Gill had raped his two eldest children, and sexual abuse charities have since called for the statue to be removed.

The Telegraph understands that, following a widespread reappraisal of contested statues after the toppling of Colston’s statue in 2020, the BBC made no plans to review or replace artworks by Gill which are built into Broadcasting House.

A clock at the top of the building was designed by Gill, along with several reliefs depicting pipers, a statue titled The Sower stands inside the entrance to the BBC’s the Grade II* listed headquarters.

Historic England, which recommends listings, has said that it “for the BBC to decide the future of the damaged Eric Gill sculpture” adding: “We would be happy to engage with them and advise on potential next steps.”

The BBC is understood to be assessing the damage to the Gill statue, with no plans for repair yet in place.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement on the incident outside Broadcasting House: “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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