Leicester University ‘does not condone’ staff member egging Thatcher statue

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

Jeremy Webster, arts centre deputy director, pictured throwing egg at statue of former PM in Grantham


A university has said it “does not condone any form of defacement” after one of its staff was pictured throwing an egg at a 6-metre (20ft) bronze statue of Margaret Thatcher.

The controversial £300,000 statue was installed in Grantham, Thatcher’s home town, without ceremony over the weekend.

Opponents had warned that egg-throwing was “absolutely inevitable” given how divisive a figure Thatcher remains. When it emerged last year that the local council planned to spend £100,000 on an unveiling ceremony, a Facebook group proposed an egg-throwing contest. It attracted 13,000 expressions of interest.

On Sunday morning it took less than two hours for an egg to be thrown at the statue, which stands on a 3-metre plinth.

The Grantham egg-thrower was later identified as Jeremy Webster, the deputy director of the University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre.

Clips of the incident on social media have been deleted.

On Monday Kerry Law, the university’s chief marketing and engagement officer, said: “The University of Leicester has a longstanding history of supporting art, fostering creativity and protecting creative freedom.

“It does not condone any form of defacement and takes any act of defacement extremely seriously. This matter will be addressed in line with the university’s own procedures.”

Lincolnshire police have said they are investigating reports of criminal damage.

The statue, made by the sculptor Douglas Jennings, was commissioned by the Public Memorials Appeal, a charity set up to commission statues, busts and plaques of people of historical importance in their chosen fields.

It had been hoped it might be erected in Parliament Square, London. After Westminster council turned the proposal down, it was offered to Grantham and work to achieve that was spearheaded by Grantham Community Heritage Association (GCHA), the educational charity that manages the museum.

Two CCTV cameras had been installed around the memorial to help combat any threats of vandalism, South Kesteven council said.

Councillor Kelham Cooke, the leader of the council, said the statue was a fitting tribute to a unique political figure.

“Margaret Thatcher will always be a significant part of Grantham’s heritage,” he said. “She and her family have close ties with Grantham. She was born, raised and went to school here.”

He added: “It is, therefore, appropriate that she is commemorated by her home town, and that the debate that surrounds her legacy takes place here in Grantham. We must never hide from our history, and this memorial will be a talking point for generations to come.”

There have been no reports of any further egg-throwing. Webster has been approached for comment.

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