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Winston Churchill's grandson says 'society has lost its compass' after statue defaced this week

The statue was defaced by protesters in the UK capital and has since been boarded up.

Graffiti on the Winston Churchill statue in London
Graffiti on the Winston Churchill statue in London
Image: Yui Mok

THE GRANDSON OF Winston Churchill has said he was “deeply upset” when his grandfather’s statue was defaced and boarded up ahead of more protests in London.

Former Conservative minister Sir Nicholas Soames told the Daily Telegraph that the incident, which saw the word “racist” scrawled on the monument, shows that British society has “lost its compass”.

His remarks come as Home Secretary Priti Patel reportedly called for the statue to be uncovered “immediately”.

Soames backed PM Boris Johnson’s condemnation of disorder during last weekend’s Black Lives Matter protests, and said London mayor Sadiq Khan was right to heed police advice and board up the statue and the nearby Cenotaph.

“I find it extraordinary that millions and millions of people all over the world who look up to Britain will be astonished that a statue of Churchill and the Cenotaph, our national war memorial, could have been defaced in this disgusting way,” he told the Telegraph.

“These people who are marching did not set out to do this, but a very, very small, extremely explosive group of people who have made a practice of hijacking entirely responsible demonstrations are behaving in an unspeakable and cowardly manner.

“It feels like a society that has lost its compass.”

Soames’ sister Emma said she had been “shocked” to see the statue being boarded up, although she understood why it had been necessary.

While she acknowledged some of her grandfather’s views would be considered unacceptable today, she said he was rightly seen as a hero by millions of British people.

“He was a powerful, complex man with infinitely more good than bad in the ledger of his life,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“Until now he was regarded as the saviour of this country and one of this country’s greatest democrats and parliamentarians. That is why the statue is there.

“People weren’t looking at the entire record of people when they put up statues to them. If they did, we would be living in a country of empty plinths, I think.”

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Patel told the Daily Mail that Churchill was a hero of Britain “who fought fascism and racism in this country and Europe”.

“He has given us the freedom to live our lives the way we do today,” she said, adding that the decision to board up the statue was a “sad reflection” on Khan’s mayoralty.

The Metropolitan Police have told those planning on joining Saturday’s anti-racism demonstrations they must be off the streets by 5pm.

Officers fear the anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US last month could be targeted by counter-demonstrations by far-right groups.

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