Police put Cenotaph on secret list of ‘contentious statues’

The Cenotaph  (PA Wire)
The Cenotaph (PA Wire)

Police have cited the Cenotaph and Winston Churchill statues as “contentious” and prone to attack because of their links to war, imperialism or slavery.

Officers fear they are likely to be targeted by protesters trying to rewrite Britain’s history, a think tank report has claimed.

The Met drew up a list of contentious landmarks, including dozens of Westminster memorials in London.

The list’s existence has emerged following a freedom of information request by the Policy Exchange think-tank which accuses police of all but abandoning Westminster to protesters and anarchist criminals.

Its report, Tarnished Jewel: The Decline Of The Streets Around Parliament, says violent crime has risen two and a half times faster near Parliament than in London as a whole. It adds: "The rise in offences coincided with the relaxation of rules on protest."

“…What should be a showpiece has declined into a degree of squalor and disorder. Windows of the great public buildings, broken by protesters, are splintered or patched with duct tape. Anarchist graffiti is painted on walls; some of it has been there for more than two years. Urine trickles from the corners."

The list explains why statues might be targeted by protesters including the Cenotaph, which, it says, "functions as the UK’s official national war memorial".

Winston Churchill’s entry on the list states that his statue could be at risk because he "referred to Indians as a ‘beastly people with a beastly religion’ ... his handling of the 1943-44 Bengal famine is particularly contentious, with Churchill accused of murdering over 3 million Indians".

The list also includes the statues of Cromwell, Sir Robert Peel, Earl Mountbatten of Burma and Gandhi.

The think tank writes: “The notes on some of the subjects of the ‘contentious statues‘ are often selective or slanted. This may, to be fair, be intended to reflect the reasons why they could be attacked by protesters rather than the force’s actual view.”

Under the notes on Cromwell’s statue, the Met writes: “He is considered controversial due to his involvement in the execution of King Charles I and atrocities committed against Catholics in Ireland.”

The notes on Gandhi report: “Social media indicates there is controversy regarding some of Gandhi’s remarks.

“He referred to black South Africans as ‘kaffirs’ [infidels] and stated that Indians were ‘infinitely superior’ to them.”

A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: “It is clear from the documents released under FOI in February 2021 that the section listing statues and monuments was highlighting for policing purposes those which were considered contentious by individuals and groups who may have sought to damage them.”