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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Mandela statue challenge begins
Model of the Nelson Mandela statue
The statue has the backing of film director Lord Attenborough
A three-day appeal hearing into the siting of a bronze statue of Nelson Mandela in Trafalgar Square has begun.

The London Mayor wants the 9ft tribute to the former South African president to stand on the square's north terrace.

But last year Westminster Council rejected plans, saying the terrace was not the best location.

The challenge to the council's decision is being heard by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, with Ken Livingstone due to speak on Thursday.

Mr Livingstone has campaigned for the statue along with the sponsors - film director Lord Richard Attenborough and Wendy Woods, widow of anti-apartheid campaigner Donald Woods.

Lord Attenborough said: "If there is a statue there in an important place, not stuck away some where, presumably future generations will say, 'Who was he, what did he do, what did he contribute?'

We have got no problem at all, in fact we rather welcome the creation of a statue of Nelson Mandela
Westminster Council's Colin Barrow

"Therefore I think it is very important we take this opportunity for the future."

Lee Jasper, senior adviser to mayor Ken Livingstone, said polls conducted among Londoners showed a majority backed his efforts.

"He is certainly a world figure and considering the huge amount of support from the UK in relation to the campaign to end apartheid, both Mandela and Trafalgar Square are seen as central to the history."

But Colin Barrow, of Westminster Council, said the statue would be better placed outside South Africa House and not in front of the National Gallery where public events are held.

He said: "We have got no problem at all, in fact we rather welcome the creation of a statue of Nelson Mandela."

Mayor fights for Mandela statue
22 Sep 05 |  London

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