Police probe statue of Margaret Thatcher's head on a pike

Police probe statue of Margaret Thatcher’s head on a pike after it was erected in former prime minister’s home town

  • Lincolnshire Police are probing statue of Margaret Thatcher’s head on a pike
  • Sculpture was erected in former PM’s home town of Grantham on Sunday
  • Local artist Mark Roberts, from Wales, denies committing criminal damage
  • Thatcher, who governed from 1979 to 1990, continues to divide public opinion 

Police have launched an investigation into suspected criminal damage after a local artist erected a statue of Margaret Thatcher’s severed head on a pike in the former Prime Minister’s home town at the weekend.

Welshman Mark Roberts, who uses the pseudonym Markrobla, hoisted his carved plaster version of the Iron Lady on a plinth in Grantham, Lincolnshire reserved for a £300,000 11ft statue of Thatcher at 4am on Sunday.

The 34-year-old said he made his own sculpture over five months in a bid to save South Kesteven District Council hundreds of thousands of pounds, and has subsequently denied breaking the law.

Lincolnshire Police have confirmed they are probing whether an offence has been committed, with a spokesperson telling MailOnline that a ‘crime of criminal damage has been recorded relating to damage to the plinth’.

The force added: ‘We are liaising with South Kesteven District Council and will investigate any offences identified.’ 

A spokesperson for the council told the Grantham Journal: ‘The council has dismantled the unauthorised artwork and made the area safe for members of the public. We are also liaising with the police regarding this matter.’

An official bronze sculpture of the Tory premier, who governed from 1979 to 1990, is due to be placed at the same location in St Peter’s Hill – but the £100,000 unveiling ceremony has been postponed due to the pandemic.

A statue of Margaret Thatcher’s severed head on a pike was erected at the site where a £300,000 bronze figure could one day stand in The Iron Lady’s home town of Grantham

Art teacher Mark Roberts, 34, used the cover of darkness to hoist up his carved plaster version of the former Prime Minister in Grantham, Lincolnshire, at 4am on Sunday 

The 5ft artwork, which also depicts Thatcher’s iconic handbag sitting at the base of the plinth, is made from plaster and an old £5 office chair.

Mr Roberts, who is originally from Wales and now lives in Grantham, said: ‘I had seen the statue was going to be unveiled and thought I might as well do my own version and I’ve saved the council hundreds of thousands of pounds.

‘I started off making a full figure but the arms kept falling off over time so I had a bit of an episode decided to stick her head to a pike.

‘I have been trying to get it all done and made before the council officially put the statue up. I’ll be amazed if its still standing today.’

Mr Roberts said he woke up in the early hours to be able to set up his £100 statue without being spotted on St Peter’s Hill green.

He added: ‘There was no breaking and entering. It has a metal fence around it so I’ve just gone in with my ladder and put it up in about five minutes.

‘I had my high vis jacket on and the plan was to say I was measuring the plinth for the council if anyone said anything.

‘I was just trying to put it up without being noticed that’s why I did it so early in the morning. The council have no idea, it’s one of those things that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. 

Two years ago South Kesteven District Council granted planning permission to erect the £300,000 statue of Baroness Thatcher which was previously rejected by Westminster Council

‘I supposed a head cut off on a spike is not overly obscene for today’s day and age.

‘If it’s up for a week I will be happy but it’s up to the council they will take it down themselves – it hasn’t done any damage to the plinth though.

‘I suppose a big part of British history was obviously cutting peoples heads off in castles and things like that it’s a traditional thing.

‘I think having her head on a pike on a plinth to show it wasn’t necessarily a celebration of her.

‘Originally I wanted her to have bags of coal around the bottom but she’s actually got her hand holding onto her handbag instead which works a bit better visually.’

Thatcher who was the daughter of a shopkeeper and was born and raised in Grantham before gaining a scholarship to study at Oxford University. 

Serving as Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, she steered the country towards free market economics, closed the mines and broke the power of the unions. In so doing, she continues to divide public opinion.

The tribute’s plinth in Grantham town centre has stood empty for 10 months while the argument continues over Baroness Thatcher’s legacy and a £100,000 unveiling ceremony which some believe should go to a local referendum

Mr Roberts added: ‘I’m from quite a working-class family and most of them are traditional Welsh and scousers as well so I think both sides weren’t big fans of hers.

‘A lot of my thoughts about Margaret Thatcher come from being Welsh. Mines closed down and she was never a positive figure in our household growing up.

‘I know my dad was always cursing her name when anything to do with Hillsborough came up.

‘But from what I have noticed she’s every chalk and cheese and some people like her and some don’t.

‘But I know a lot more people didn’t like her for what she did to the community where I grew up in North Wales.’

The statue of the former Prime Minister was rejected by London and instead offered to South Kesteven District Council.

It was acquired for £300,000 with money mainly being raised through public fundraising, private donations and supporters of the Grantham Museum.

The actual statue is currently being stored in a secret location after an unveiling ceremony set to cost taxpayers £100,000 has been postponed due to the pandemic. 

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