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The protester who threw eggs at a statue of Margaret Thatcher in Grantham less than two hours after its unveiling is the deputy director of an arts centre who put out a ‘call to arms’ on social media.
Jeremy Webster, 59, the deputy director of a publicly funded arts centre, named himself on social media as the egg-thrower.
He showed up just over an hour after the monument was placed and threw four eggs – one of which hit the statue – and then left the scene.
It was among several acts of disrespect directed towards Baroness Thatcher after the £300,000 statue was finally put on its plinth in Grantham, Lincolnshire, yesterday morning.
The vandalism has been condemned by local councilors and MPs who called it ‘‘very disrespectful’ and added that: ‘People should be immensely proud of Margaret Thatcher, whether they voted for her or not, as she remains one of the most important PMs not just of the last century but of all centuries.’
The monument of Britain’s first woman prime minister was unveiled after two years of delays and several threats from protestors to engage in an ‘egg-throwing competition’ at the monument.
A CCTV camera has been installed opposite the statue to prevent vandalism, but last night there were fears it could become a magnet for troublemakers.
Jeremy Webster, 59, (left, pictured with partner Dee Barnes and artist Grayson Perry) is understood to have showed up just over an hour after the monument was placed
He showed up just over an hour after the monument was placed and threw four eggs – one of which hit the statue – and then left the scene
On his Twitter account, Mr Webster earlier today posted: ‘Grantham unveils Thatcher statue, so guess where we are going?’
One egg hit the bottom of the statue after the protest unleashed his barrage
Thatcher’s monument was erected on the 10ft plinth by workers in Grantham today
A council CCTV camera overlooks the statue of Baroness Thatcher in her home town of Grantham
The pandemic and fears of left-wing attacks on the statue have delayed its opening for two years
It was vetoed from its originally planned position in Parliament Square, Westminster.
Lincolnshire Police earlier confirmed there have been no arrests so far but enquiries are ongoing.
The statue was protected by a large metal fence – but this did not stop the man from throwing the projectiles.
However, the footage appears to have been taken down from her social media. On his Twitter account, Mr Webster earlier today posted: ‘Grantham unveils Thatcher statue, so guess where we are going?’
In another post on Instagram he had apparently said: ‘South Wales miners are heading up to Grantham to remove her head.’ This post no longer appears available.
According to his LinkedIn, Mr Webster spent nearly nine years as Deputy Director at the Attenborough Arts Centre at the University of Leicester, having previously been Head of Exhibitions at The National Centre for Craft and Design based in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.
He had also spent just over a decade in various roles at Lincolnshire Country Council.
MailOnline has reached out to Ms Barnes and Mr Webster for more information.
Mr Webster was yesterday unavailable to comment at his £400,000 home in Grantham, which is on the same street where Baroness Thatcher was born.
He was last week pictured at an event with artist Grayson Perry, who is a patron of the University of Leicester.
Protections were put in place by the council in order to protect the controversial monument
The statue was protected by a large metal fence – but this did not stop the man from throwing the projectiles
In February 2019, a planning committee in the Lincolnshire town unanimously voted in favour of the £300,000 statue before the unveiling was postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The statue has now been erected on a 10ft-high granite plinth in Baroness Thatcher’s home town of Grantham, Lincolnshire.
Reports originally presented to South Kesteven District Council showed the statue was moved to the area due to fears of a ‘motivated far-left movement…who may be committed to public activism’.
The £300,000 statue was originally supposed to stand in Westminster’s Parliament Square but this move was scrapped by councillors
But after a large-scale £100,000 unveiling ceremony was approved by the council in 2020, a Facebook group proposing an ‘egg-throwing contest’ at the event attracted interest from more than 13,000 people.
Around 2,400 others visited the Facebook page to say they would go to the event including ‘egg throwing… and potentially graffiti art’.
Before planning permission was given to the statue, the only marking of Baroness Thatcher in the town was a plaque on the corner of North Parade and Broad Street to show where she was born.
A council spokesman said the Public Memorials Appeal, which funded the monument through donations, will host an official unveiling ceremony at a later date.
Leader of South Kesteven District Council Kelham Cooke said ‘we must never hide from our history’, adding it is ‘appropriate the debate that surrounds her legacy takes place here in Grantham’.
He said: ‘This memorial statue of the late Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven will be a fitting tribute to a truly unique political figure.
‘Margaret Thatcher will always be a significant part of Grantham’s heritage. She and her family have close ties with Grantham. She was born, raised and went to school here.
‘It is, therefore, appropriate that she is commemorated by her home town, and that the debate that surrounds her legacy takes place here in Grantham.
‘We must never hide from our history, and this memorial will be a talking point for generations to come.’
The statue, standing at just over 20ft high, will be situated in between two existing statues of Sir Isaac Newton and Frederick Tollemache in the town’s Civic Quarter.
Mr Cooke added: ‘We hope that this memorial will encourage others to visit Grantham and to see where she lived and visit the exhibition of her life in Grantham Museum.
‘This is about inspiring, educating and informing people about someone who represents a significant part of Grantham’s heritage.’
The Grantham Community Heritage Association (GCHA), an educational charity which manages Grantham Museum, spent a number of years raising money for a permanent memorial to Baroness Thatcher.
Graham Jeal, of the GCHA, said: ‘There has long been a conversation in Grantham about a more permanent memorial to the country’s first female prime minister who was an enormous political figure, both nationally and internationally.
Mrs Thatcher was born on October 13 1925 and spent her childhood in the Lincolnshire market town
‘The delivery of the memorial has secured the museum for the next few years and has helped the museum finances survive the Covid pandemic.
‘It is recognised that the full spectrum of views exist in Grantham about the legacy of Margaret Thatcher and an exhibition inside the museum illustrates this.’
Local Tory councillor Linda Wootten called the egg throwing ‘very disrespectful’, adding that the statue had long been a controversial issue in the town.
‘It was obvious that something like this was going to happen – but we didn’t expect it to happen so quickly,’ she said. ‘There is concern that the statue will attract people for the wrong reasons.’
Conservative MP Sir John Hayes, who represents the neighbouring Lincolnshire constituency of South Holland and The Deepings, said: ‘Even in the glorious county of Lincolnshire, there are some stupid people.
‘People should be immensely proud of Margaret Thatcher, whether they voted for her or not, as she remains one of the most important PMs not just of the last century but of all centuries.’
Robert Poll, founder of the Save Our Statues campaign group, which was started when the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol was torn down in 2020, branded the egg-thrower an ‘idiot’.
He added: ‘People have to accept they won’t agree with the political views of every statue they see. A bit more tolerance, a bit less childishness. Great to see the statue up.’
The council’s Labour group leader, Lee Steptoe, said Baroness Thatcher was ‘the most divisive PM in history’ and that statues are ‘Victorian concepts’ with ‘no place in the 21st century’.
The statue shows Ms Thatcher dressed in the Baronial Gown of Kesteven and wearing the chain of the Order of the Garter. It was created by the critically acclaimed sculptor Douglas Jennings.
Mrs Thatcher was born on October 13, 1925 and spent her childhood in the Lincolnshire market town before heading off to Somerville College, Oxford, at the age of 18 to study chemistry.
The argument about how or even whether Mrs Thatcher, who died aged 87 died in April 2013 after suffering a stroke, should be recognised in Grantham has raised for nearly two decades.