Revealed: Protester who attacked paedophile sculptor’s BBC statue with a hammer is father’s rights campaigner who dressed as Spider-Man for six-day Tower Bridge stunt
A protester who used a hammer to attack a statue by known paedophile Eric Gill on the outside of the BBC‘s Broadcasting House is a notorious Fathers 4 Justice campaigner.
David Chick, 52, had most recently been seen last year above a crane in East London in April last year dressed in his familiar Spiderman mask.
Previously he had donned the superhero outfit near Tower Bridge in 2003 on a different crane to protest fathers’ rights. He was cleared of causing a public nuisance the following year.
Mr Chick said at the time he had carried out the stunt in frustration over difficulties in seeing his daughter.
Yesterday he was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and was today being held in custody by the Metropolitan Police.
It came after a statute – Prospero and Ariel – was attacked by a protester with a hammer at its home at the entrance to the BBC’s Broadcasting House in Portland Place, London.
Campaigners have long-called for the statue to be removed since it was revealed decades after his death in 1940 that its creator Eric Gill sexually abused his two eldest daughters.
His 1933 statue, which is inspired by Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, was set upon with a hammer for almost four hours.
Met Police officers and the London Fire Brigade used an elevated platform to bring the man to safety before detaining him.
Police officers detained him after he climbed onto the statues Prospero and Ariel from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest by the sculptor Eric Gill outside of the BBC’s headquarters
He was protesting because sculptor Eric Gill was a paedophile who abused his own children
Chick donned the superhero outfit near Tower Bridge in 2003 on a different crane to protest
A force spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Police were called at approximately 4.15pm on January 12 to reports of a man damaging a statue on a ledge outside a building in Portland Place. Officers attended.
‘The man came down with assistance from London Fire Brigade at around 8.45pm.
‘He was checked by London Ambulance Service before being arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and taken into custody.
‘The property owners are examining any damage to the statue and building.
‘Another man was earlier arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage. He also remains in custody.
‘Road closures have now been lifted.’
The incident came a week after a jury cleared four people of criminal damage despite the fact they did not deny pulling down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.
The verdict sparked debate over the criminality and ethics of vandalising statues that are deemed controversial.
The man used a ladder to access the 10ft statue and hit it with a hammer for more than four hours, knocking pieces off
Pieces of broken plaster are seen on the ground after the activist damaged the statue in front of police officers on Wednesday
Eric Gill: The dark side of a famous sculptor
Pictured: English sculptor Eric Gill
- In 1907, Eric Gill moved with his wife Ethel Hester Moore to Ditchling in Sussex, where he established a bohemian artists’ community
- In Sussex and at his later home in a ruined Benedictine monastery in Wales he produced life drawings of his daughters as they grew up
- He drew his daughter Petra, who he admitted having sex with, as a nude teenager in work Girl In Bath
- In his diary, published after his death, he described his penchant for bestiality and incest – with his sister and with his daughters
- He had a string of affairs with models for his work
The Gill sculpture, depicting Prospero and Ariel from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, was installed in 1933, according to the BBC.
‘Prospero, Ariel’s master, stands 10ft tall and is depicted sending Ariel out into the world. Ariel, as the spirit of the air, was felt to be an appropriate symbol for the new mystery of broadcasting,’ the BBC says on its website.
It adds: ‘After Broadcasting House was opened and the statues were installed, concern was voiced about the size of the sprite’s genitalia.
‘A question was tabled in the House of Commons, but the popular story, that Gill was ordered to modify the statue, is not substantiated.’
It is one of a number of Gill sculptures at the BBC’s headquarters – the Sower can be found in the reception area, while he also contributed to Bas Reliefs of Ariel in the building as well.
The BBC describes the Sower as: ‘The statue, made of English marble (Hopton Wood Stone) stands more than 2.6 metres tall in a niche by the doors leading to the artists’ lobby and studios.
‘A pedestal supports the statue, and bears the inscription ‘Deus Incrementu Dat’ (‘God giveth the increase’, Corinthians, chapter 3, verse 7).’
In 1990, the BBC adopted his typeface Gill Sans which he created in 1927. The corporation used the font for its wordmark and many of its onscreen television graphics.
The logo became one of the longest standing logos in the world and was only recently changed.
A biography on the Tate museum website said: ‘Gill’s religious views and subject matter contrast with his sexual behaviour, including his erotic art, and (as mentioned in his own diaries) his extramarital affairs and sexual abuse of his daughters, sisters and dog.’
Nearly 2,500 people have previously signed a petition demanding the removal of the sculpture on the website of political activist group 38 Degrees.
Chick had dressed as Spiderman to protest nearly 20 years ago over frustrations with access
He said he had protested because he was frustrated at difficulties seeing his daughter
A BBC spokesman said: ‘The statue at the front of old Broadcasting House is a representation of Prospero and Ariel from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Prospero is shown sending Ariel out into the world. When the statue was commissioned, Ariel – as the spirit of the air – was seen as an appropriate symbol for the new dawn of broadcasting.
‘The BBC doesn’t condone the views or actions of Eric Gill. Clearly there are debates about whether you can separate the work of an artist from the art itself. We think the right thing to do is for people to have those discussions. We don’t think the right approach is to damage the artwork itself.’
The incident came a week after a jury cleared four people of criminal damage after they pulled down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston.
The bronze memorial to the 17th century figure was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on June 7 2020, before being rolled into the water, and those responsible were acquitted on January 5 following an 11-day trial at the Old Bailey.
The verdict has prompted debate after the ‘Colston Four’ opted to stand trial in front of a jury and did not deny involvement in the incident, instead claiming the presence of the statue was a hate crime and it was therefore not an offence to remove it.