What will happen to the demonstrators who threw the Colston statue into Bristol Harbour?
The Home Secretary has described the demonstrators’ behaviour as “absolutely disgraceful.” Clearly she hopes that they will be prosecuted and punished.
The law is on her side.
S.1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 provides:
“A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.”
It is impossible to know the exact value of the statue, or the cost of repairing it (it has been sensibly suggested that it might be recovered from the harbour and re-erected in a museum), but it is very unlikely to have been less than £5,000. Anyone charged with damaging it would therefore have the right to elect trial by jury in the Crown Court.
Damaging a listed building
It was a Grade II listed building. According to Heritage England it is, or was:
“A handsome statue, erected in the late C19 to commemorate a late C17 figure; the resulting contrast of styles is handled with confidence. The statue is of particular historical interest, the subject being Edward Colston, Bristol’s most famous philanthropist, now also noted for his involvement in the slave trade. Group value with other Bristol memorials: a statue of Edmund Burke, the Cenotaph, and a drinking fountain commemorating the Industrial and Fine Art Exhibition of 1893.”
The use of euphemism in the listing is remarkable: Continue reading “The Colston statue destroyers have no defence in law but they will never be convicted”