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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Man denies Thatcher statue charge
The headless statue of Margaret Thatcher
The headless statue has been withdrawn from display
A theatre producer accused of decapitating a statue of Baroness Thatcher has pleaded not guilty to criminal damage.

Paul Kelleher, 37, from Isleworth, west London, appeared in court on Thursday and was released on bail with an order to return on 24 July.

Paul Kelleher
Paul Kelleher wanted to protest against capitalism
He admitted attacking the statue but said he would not plead guilty to criminal damage as he is "not a criminal".

The eight-feet white marble sculpture, which was on display at Guildhall Art Gallery, has now been withdrawn from view.

City of London Magistrates' Court was told how Mr Gilbert entered the gallery carrying a cricket bat.

John Gilbert, prosecuting, said: "When he was beside the statue he took out the cricket bat and took a swipe at the statue.


It's just a statue, an idol we seem to be worshipping to a greater extent

Paul Kelleher
"He then took up one of those heavy metal poles that are used to support the rope cordon.

"He took another swing at the statue with that heavy pole and in that way he knocked the head of the statue off.

"He didn't run, he stayed in order to be arrested, and he was taken to a police station and interviewed.

Neil Simmons with the marble
Sculptor Neil Simmons: "Deeply saddened" by what happened
"There, he told the police of his deliberate intention to test security and damage the statue and he said he knew he was going to be arrested.

Mr Gilbert also said that Mr Kelleher was making a protest against global capitalism.

When asked to enter a plea, the accused said to the court clerk: "With the greatest respect to the court ma'am I'm unable to enter a plea of guilty due to the fact it is criminal damage.

"I'm not a criminal so I will have to enter a plea of not guilty."

'No hurt'

Mr Kelleher, who is defending himself, said: "The objective of the exercise yesterday was to remove the head of the statue for some of the reasons the prosecution have said.

Baroness Thatcher stands with the 8ft sculpture at its unveiling
The 8ft statue was headed for the Commons
"I haven't really hurt anybody, it's just a statue, an idol we seem to be worshipping to a greater extent."

The sculpture is insured for a sum of £150,000, but the cost to repair it is not known.

Sculptor Neil Simmons, 44, said he was "deeply saddened" by the damage.

It took him two years to find the right size piece of marble for the 1.8-ton statue, and eight months and several sittings with Lady Thatcher to complete.

A spokesman for Lady Thatcher said there would be no statement from her.


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See also:

01 Feb 02 | UK Politics
26 Jan 02 | UK Politics
21 Jan 02 | UK Politics
24 Dec 01 | UK Politics
03 May 99 | Thatcher Anniversary
26 Apr 99 | Thatcher Anniversary
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