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Emmeline Pankhurst statue row, as former Tory MP attempts to win support for new memorial branded 'hideous' by suffragette's family

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 24/05/2019 Helena Horton
The statue which has been branded "hideous" © John Bulmer/Getty Image The statue which has been branded "hideous"

A proposed new memorial to Emmeline Pankhurst has been branded "hideous" by the family of the suffragette as they attempt to block a former Tory MP from erecting it in Parliament Square.

The new monument would stand just metres away from the existing statue, built in 1930, which was at the centre of a row last year when Sir Neil Thorne attempted to move it away from its place next to Parliament.

Last year, after outrage from feminists, who said it should never be moved, especially not to private property, Westminster Council denied permission for it to be taken from its place.

Read more: Pankhurst statue receives further protection (The Telegraph)

Now, Sir Neil Thorne is appealing a decision to block him from building a new, larger statue in Parliament Square, a stone's throw from the existing one. His appeal will be heard on the 4th June.

Pankhurst's great niece, Faye Cooper, has said this new monument, designed by sculptor Angela Conner, does not look like her relative.

She told The Telegraph: "It's a terrible statue, it doesn't look like our great aunt at all.

I am so angry that Neil Thorne has gone to this trouble again.

"Other members of the family are also incensed that he's gone back.

a person standing next to a forest: The current statue in Victoria Tower Gardens Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire © Provided by Telegraph Media Group Limited The current statue in Victoria Tower Gardens Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire "We're not too sure how many people have been notified of this appeal which goes on June 4th.

"My daughter has seen a picture of the proposed new statue and has also said it's hideous."

While the family has been fighting this campaign for some time, Mrs Cooper said the statue debacle has brought them all closer together.

Read more: Pankhurst's great-granddaughter receives CBE (Press Association)

She explained: "I found out last year I have more relatives than I ever knew I had through this campaign. It's been rather fascinating that we've actually met up.

"In Manchester last year when we went up for the unveiling of the statue, there were three generations of the family there and thirteen members of the family up there, it was absolutely fantastic."

Campaigner Caroline Criado Perez, who fought for the original statue to remain in its place in Victoria Tower Gardens, said she was confused by the appeal.

She added: "It’s such a shame he’s so set on this vanity project - there are so many amazing women who deserve a statue and who don’t have one. If you’re rich enough to fund your own statue in PS why not do one of a woman who doesn’t have one yet?

Watch: Statue of Emmeline Pankhurst undergoes 'bronze pour' (The Independent)

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"Of course, I know why. It’s because this was never about feminism for him. It was about getting a big f--- off statue with his name on it in central London."

In his appeal, Sir Thorne writes: "The Pankhurst Trust was encouraged by the City Council to pursue an alternative location for the existing Pankhurst figure in nearby Victoria Tower Gardens, which became the subject of a Listed Building Consent, subsequently withdrawn.

"The work was designed, by the sculptor Angela Conner, to represent the universal significance of women’s Suffrage. The dynamic forward thrust of the sculpture’s stance is emblematic of the struggle by women to have the right to vote, which was attained in 1918. The true and historic significance of this generational pursuit of women’s rights and dignity, led by Emmeline Pankhurst, can now be seen a century later, as a formative political moment towards the establishment of equal rights. The proposed sculpture suggests these themes in physical form and as such represents a subtle mood change with many of the surrounding figures on Canning Green and in the wider setting of Parliament Square."

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