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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 19:18 GMT
Charity removes Churchill statue
Statue of Sir Winston Churchill in a straightjacket
The statue has been condemned as "an ignorant gimmick"
A charity's controversial statue of Sir Winston Churchill in a straitjacket has been removed after it caused outcry.

Rethink commissioned the sculpture, unveiled in The Forum building in Norwich at the weekend, to highlight the stigma of mental health problems.

Forum managers said the 9ft statue had to go after complaints from tenants and members of the public who said it was insulting to the Churchill family.

The sculpture had been due to stay in place until the end of this week.

Churchill's grandson, Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, said the piece was "absurd and pathetic" and "sensation-seeking" and the Churchill family condemned the statue as "offensive to them and to the people who revered him".

We did not intend the statue to be offensive in any way
Rethink spokesman

In the House of Commons on Monday, it was also condemned as "an ignorant gimmick".

Senior Tory Sir Patrick Cormack said the glass fibre sculpture was an insult to both the former prime minister and to those with mental health problems.

Not everyone was critical of the statue. Lecturer John Britton who 12 years ago lost everything through manic depression said he thought it was brilliant.

"It speaks volumes for those of us who have spent most of their lives in the straitjacket of mental illness and yet have achieved against all the odds in a society that currently is prejudiced, ignorant and sometimes fearful of my condition."

Rethink said the image of Churchill - who suffered bouts of depression - was designed to portray a more positive image of people with mental illness and to help end the discrimination often faced by sufferers.

'Deeply sorry'

The charity's director of campaigns Paul Corry said Churchill was often used as an example by professional counsellors when talking about depression.

"We certainly were not trying to insult anyone and we are deeply sorry for offending the Churchill family.

"The reason we chose Churchill was to try to celebrate his life - to celebrate the fact that this was a man who was voted the Greatest Briton in a BBC poll, yet who experienced mental health problems all of his life."

He said the campaign to raise awareness of mental illness and the stigma surrounding it would continue.

Managers at The Forum in Norwich said they had received complaints from tenants and asked for the statue to be removed from public view.

A spokesman said the reaction of the Churchill family and the apparent offence caused to a number of people were also factors in its removal.


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See the statue of Churchill in a straitjacket



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