Fury at BBC’s decision to restore statue by ‘evil’ paedophile Eric Gill, who sexually abused his own daughters and his dog
A campaigner against child sexual abuse has slammed the BBC for restoring a statue created by a confessed paedophile.
The statue by Eric Gill, a sculptor who admitted sexually abusing his daughters in diaries that were later published, was carved during 1931 and 1932 – one of many of his high-profile works.
Following the 1989 revelation of his persistent abuse of his children alongside an incestuous relationship with his sister and sexual activity with the family dog, calls have been repeatedly made for the statue to be removed from the BBC’s London headquarters.
The Grade II-listed statue was attacked and damaged by a man with a hammer in 2022 and will now be restored with funds from the BBC’s insurance policy.
But child sexual abuse campaigners have said the decision to restore the work is a ‘smack in the face’ and ‘flies in the face’ of BBC values.
The Grade II-listed statue outside the BBC’s London headquarters was attacked and damaged by a man with a hammer in 2022
The statue depicts Ariel and Prospero from The Tempest, by William Shakespeare and both figures are Grade II listed (the artist with his work)
Dawn Carrington, a long-time sexual abuse campaigner who has previously worked with the corporation, said: ‘The decision to restore this statue by a paedophile is a smack in the face to the BBC’s audience and employees, an estimated one in five of whom have experienced at least one form of child abuse, 3.1million of which were victims of sexual abuse.
‘This decision also flies in the face of the BBC’s values, which are to reflect the UK’s values to the world and contribute to the wellbeing of the UK. What sort of a message do they think this sends?
‘It’s abhorrent that an evil man who confessed to sexually abusing his daughters, sisters and his dog should be celebrated in this way – it should be torn down.’
Dawn Carrington said the decision to restore the statue was a ‘smack in the face’ to survivors
The statue depicts Ariel and Prospero from The Tempest, by William Shakespeare and both figures are Grade II listed. It has previously been a focal point for extremists including Tommy Robinson.
The repairs, which are being funded by insurance payments, are expected to be completed by the end of June and are being carried out by expert stonemasons.
A QR code will be installed nearby to provide further information about the artist’s life and the abuses he committed.
Robert Seatter, Head of BBC History, said the debate about whether an artist can be separated from their art continues and that the BBC in no way condones his actions.
‘Broadcasting House is a building of historical and cultural significance and one of the foundations of modern-day broadcasting, both in this country and around the world. We have a responsibility to maintain and preserve the building for generations to come.
‘Alongside this, Gill’s abusive behaviour and lifestyle are well documented and the BBC in no way condones his behaviour. So while it is right that the fabric of the building is restored, we must also ensure people are fully informed about the history connected to it.
‘This repair work provides an opportunity to give important context about the art and the artist, as well as the wider significance of the building.
‘The debate about whether you can separate the work of an artist from the art itself remains, I hope we are taking steps to help inform that debate.’