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Vandalism fears should not halt Margaret Thatcher statue plans, says PM

Theresa May wants the monument to the first female Prime Minister to go ahead.

A statue of Margaret Thatcher should not be stopped because of fears of vandalism, Theresa May has said.

Fears that a monument to the late premier would be defaced have been blamed for it not being erected.

But the Prime Minister told BBC News: “What I’m very clear about is there should be no suggestion that the threat of vandalism should stop a statue of Margaret Thatcher from being put up.”

Backers of the statue hoped the memorial to Britain’s first female prime minister, reported to cost £300,000, would join the likes of Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and other political greats in Parliament Square.

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Douglas Jennings' statue of Margaret Thatcher (Douglas Jennings/PA)

However the Public Memorials Appeal Trust saw its application derailed after objections from the arms-length Government organisation that maintains the square and from local campaigners.

Among the concerns was that the trust could not guarantee that Baroness Thatcher’s family consented to the statue, which was to stand on a stone plinth on the western edge of Canning Green.

In a letter to City of Westminster Council, The Royal Parks said it was objecting to the application on behalf of the Government as the trust “failed to give the assurances (we) sought”.

On Thursday, The Royal Parks added: “Numerous times we have requested assurances from the applicant that they have approval from the family for the statue. To date we have not had those assurances.”

Meanwhile, the former Tory leader’s divisive legacy meant conservationists were worried that her statue would be repeatedly targeted by those opposed to her politics.

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Winston Churchill is one of many statues in Parliament Square (John Stillwell/PA)

In their response to the planning application, The Thorney Island Society (TIS) advised that the principle of leaving a 10-year gap between the death of a subject and the installation of a statue should be adhered to.

The group said: “While Lady Thatcher was also widely respected, it cannot be said that she was uncontroversial in this country.

“There is a strong case for the 10-year rule to be respected – there should be a decent interval before permanent statues are erected, especially when they are controversial enough to risk vandalism.”

In 2002 a protester decapitated a £150,000 Italian marble statue of Lady Thatcher on display at London’s Guildhall Library.

There have also been cases of an existing resident of Parliament Square, Churchill, falling victim to vandals, including being defaced with graffiti.

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