Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Benn supports RAF hero statue bid

Maquette of statue
Sir Keith commanded RAF squadrons during 1940 Luftwaffe attacks

A bid to install a statue of RAF hero Sir Keith Park in London has been backed by ex-Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn and Tory peer Lord Tebbit.

Sir Keith commanded RAF squadrons which defended London and the South East from Luftwaffe attacks in 1940.

Campaigners want a temporary statue of Sir Keith in Trafalgar Square and a permanent one elsewhere in London.

Mr Benn said: "The man who really guided fighter command should be recognised in the centre of London."

City financier Terry Smith has pledged up to 500,000 to create and maintain a statue of Sir Keith.

London's mayor Boris Johnson and previous mayor Ken Livingstone also back plans for a memorial.

Last year a bid to place a permanent statue of Sir Keith on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth failed as Mr Johnson said the plinth would continue to be used for contemporary art.

But the mayor plans to put a temporary statue of Sir Keith on the plinth for six months later this year with the permanent statue expected to be unveiled in 2010.

The site of the permanent statue has yet to be decided. Planning applications for the permanent and temporary statues are being delivered this week.

Terry Smith, from the Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign, said: "The Germans' nickname for Park during the Battle of Britain was 'the defender of London', which is probably what we'll put on the plaque in Trafalgar Square."

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Profile: Sir Keith Park
19 Jan 09 |  UK

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