US

Student who cancelled the Queen is a visiting AMERICAN

The Oxford student who tabled the motion to remove an ‘unwelcoming’ portrait of the Queen from Magdalen College’s common room is a privately educated American post grad who went to school with Barack Obama’s daughter, it can be revealed today.

Matthew Katzman is a lecturer in computer science and the son of a top lawyer at international firm Steptoe & Johnson. His family live in a £4million mansion in Washington DC, where he attended $48,000-a-year Sidwell Friends School, a historic Quaker private college. 

It is likely he counted Malia Obama, 22, as a contemporary at the elite institution, whose other alumni include Nancy Reagan, President Bill Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, the grandchildren of Joe Biden during his vice-presidency, and the offspring of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.

The 25-year-old brought forward the measure to ‘cancel’ the Queen in his role as president of Magdalen’s Middle Common Room (MCR), which is made up of graduates. 

Before Oxford, where he is studying for a PhD in ‘complexity theory’, he gained a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a masters in theoretical computer science at Stanford. 

In an online biography, Mr Katzman lists his non-academic interests as CrossFit, poker, board games, playing the trumpet and Spartan Races – a popular series of long-distance obstacle courses. 

The move generated a huge backlash today, with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson calling it ‘absurd’, and Oxford University’s Chancellor Lord Patten condemning the students for being ‘offensive and obnoxiously ignorant’. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson this afternoon said backed Mr Williamson’s criticism, with a No 10 spokesman saying: ‘You have had the Education Secretary’s words, which the PM supports.’ 

Matthew Katzman (pictured), tables all motions as part of his position as President of the Middle Common Room (MCR) at Magdalen College, Oxford 

In a statement, Mr Katzman told MailOnline: 'The Magdalen College MCR voted yesterday to remove an inexpensive print of the queen that was hung in the common room a few years ago (a motion I brought forward in my role as MCR President as I do all motions raised in a sub-committee).

Mr Katzman

In a statement, Mr Katzman (pictured) told MailOnline: ‘The Magdalen College MCR voted yesterday to remove an inexpensive print of the queen that was hung in the common room a few years ago (a motion I brought forward in my role as MCR President as I do all motions raised in a sub-committee)’ 

The relevant section of the committee minutes which mentioned the motion to remove the Queen's portrait

The relevant section of the committee minutes which mentioned the motion to remove the Queen's portrait

The relevant section of the committee minutes which mentioned the motion to remove the Queen’s portrait 

MCR members agreed to remove the photographic print of the Queen by a substantial majority after deciding it was ‘unwelcoming’ because the monarch represents ‘recent colonial history’, with one student commenting that ‘patriotism and colonialism are not really separable’. 

The committee will now explore replacing the portrait with ‘art by or of other influential and inspirational people’ and subject any future depictions of the Royal Family to a vote, according to committee minutes that have not been released to the public. 

Oxford, like all public universities, benefits from large amounts of taxpayers’ money to fund research, eight percent (£196million) in the form of direct grants from the Office for Students and Research England and 16% (£392m) from tuition fees, many of which are backed by government loans. 

The row comes amid growing concern at the rise of intolerance and ‘cancel culture’ at British universities, which ministers have vowed to tackle. 

However, Mr Katzman, the son of commercial lawyer Scott Katzman, 65, claimed the move did not ‘equate to a statement on the Queen’ but said the painting was being taken down to create ‘a welcoming, neutral place for all members regardless of background, demographic, or views’. 

Magdalen – whose alumni include CS Lewis and Oscar Wilde – has indicated it will not attempt to reverse the decision, despite its long association with royalty. This includes visits from the Queen in 1948 to receive an Honorary Degree and again in 2008 to mark the college’s 550th anniversary.  

The print was bought and put up by a previous group of students in 2008, and shows the monarch in a white gown and blue sash. It is based on a 1952 photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding to mark her accession and coronation (pictured)

The print was bought and put up by a previous group of students in 2008, and shows the monarch in a white gown and blue sash. It is based on a 1952 photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding to mark her accession and coronation (pictured) 

Before Oxford, where Mr Kutzman is studying for a PhD in 'complexity theory', he gained a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a masters in theoretical computer science at Stanford

Before Oxford, where Mr Kutzman is studying for a PhD in ‘complexity theory’, he gained a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a masters in theoretical computer science at Stanford

Mr Katzman lists Spartan Races among his interests. This is a form of long-distance racing over an obstacle course

Mr Katzman lists Spartan Races among his interests. This is a form of long-distance racing over an obstacle course 

In an online biography, Mr Katzman lists his non-academic interests as CrossFit, poker, board games and playing the trumpet

In an online biography, Mr Katzman lists his non-academic interests as CrossFit, poker, board games and playing the trumpet 

The trumpet-playing millionaire lawyer’s son who went to elite private school with Obama’s daughter – and has a passion for poker and Spartan Races 

The student who tabled the motion to remove the Queen’s portrait is a privately educated academic high achiever who graduated from Stanford University to become a lecturer in computer science at Oxford. 

Matthew Katzman is the son of Scott Katzman, 65, a lawyer specialising in mergers and acquisitions, cryptocurrency and finance. His family live in a £4million mansion. 

The 25-year-old, who grew up in Washington DC before attending the $48,000-a-year Sidwell Friends School – which was founded by Quakers in 1883.  It is likely he counted Malia Obama, 22, as a contemporary. The elite institution’s distinguished list of alumni include Nancy Reagan, President Bill Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, the grandchildren of Joe Biden during his vice-presidency, and the offspring of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon. 

Mr Katzman is a trustee of Magdalen College Trust, which manages donations from alumni. His studies are partly funded by Deep Mind, a leading British artificial intelligence company

Mr Katzman is a trustee of Magdalen College Trust, which manages donations from alumni. His studies are partly funded by Deep Mind, a leading British artificial intelligence company

The student lists playing the trumpet among his non-academic hobbies

The student lists playing the trumpet among his non-academic hobbies 

Mr Katzman earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a masters in theoretical computer science and is now studying for a PhD in ‘complexity theory’.  

In his role as Middle Common Room president, Matthew Katzman is in charge of tabling all motions that are proposed by members. 

Speaking to MailOnline, he said that the move was intended to make the common room a ‘neutral place for all members regardless of background, demographic, or views’. 

In an online biography he lists his other interests as CrossFit, poker, board games, playing the trumpet and Spartan Races – a popular series of long-distance obstacle courses. 

Mr Katzman is the son of Scott Katzman, 60, a lawyer specialising in mergers and acquisitions, cryptocurrency and finance

Mr Katzman is the son of Scott Katzman, 60, a lawyer specialising in mergers and acquisitions, cryptocurrency and finance

Describing his academic background, he says: ‘I studied for a BS with Distinction and Honors in Mathematics alongside an MS in Computer Science at Stanford University. While there, I assisted in the teaching of courses in mathematics, algorithms/complexity, machine learning/artificial intelligence, and computer systems. At Oxford, I have tutored courses in both algorithms/complexity and machine learning/artificial intelligence.’

Mr Katzman is a trustee of Magdalen College Trust, which manages donations from alumni. His studies are partly funded by Deep Mind, a leading British artificial intelligence company. 

Mr Katzman told MailOnline last night: ‘The Magdalen College MCR yesterday [Monday] voted to remove an inexpensive print of the queen that was hung in the common room a few years ago (a motion I brought forward in my role as MCR President as I do all motions raised in a sub-committee). 

‘It is being stored securely and will remain in the MCR’s art collection. 

‘The action was taken after a discussion of the purpose of such a space, and it was decided that the room should be a welcoming, neutral place for all members regardless of background, demographic, or views. 

‘The Royal Family is on display in many areas of the college, and it was ultimately agreed that it was an unnecessary addition to the common room. 

‘The views of the MCR do not reflect the views of Magdalen College, and the aesthetic decisions made by the voting members of its committee do not equate to a statement on the Queen. 

‘Indeed, no stance was taken on the Queen or the Royal Family – the conclusion was simply that there were better places for this print to be hung.’ 

The print was bought and put up by a previous group of students in 2008, and shows the monarch in a white gown and blue sash. It is based on a 1952 photograph taken by Dorothy Wilding to mark her accession and coronation. 

Amid an intense backlash, the president of Magdalen College swiftly moved to distance the institution itself from the students involved, despite defending their right to make the decision. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson weighed into the row, tweeting: ‘Oxford University students removing a picture of the Queen is simply absurd. She is the Head of State and a symbol of what is best about the UK. 

‘During her long reign she has worked tirelessly to promote British values of tolerance, inclusivity and respect around the world.’ 

Oxford’s vice-chancellor Lord Patten also intervened, saying: ‘Freedom of speech allows even intelligent people to be offensive and obnoxiously ignorant.

‘I hope it does not do too much damage to the reputation of the college. I am sure old members of the college will try to be charitable in their assessment.’ 

Sir John Hayes, chairman of the Common Sense Group of Conservative MPs, told The Telegraph: ‘The sad thing is that you would think that the people of Magdalen College Oxford are reasonably bright, and this decision would suggest that they are not.

‘The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth and respected across the world as such, and to try to suggest anything otherwise is a dishonest distortion. The people involved should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.’ 

The MCR committee will now explore replacing the portrait with ‘art by or of other influential and inspirational people’ and subject any future depictions of the Royal Family to a vote, according to committee minutes that have not been published.   

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick today called the row ‘student union politics’ but said he was ‘proud’ to have a portrait of the monarch in his office.

‘Well, this really is student union politics, and I’m not going to get involved in that – it’s their decision,’ he told BBC Breakfast.

‘I have a portrait of the Queen on my office wall in my Government department and I’m proud to do so.’

Asked about Gavin Williamson’s comments, Mr Jenrick said: ‘I’m a huge fan and supporter of Her Majesty the Queen, I think we are incredibly lucky to live in a country with a head of state of her stature.

‘I wouldn’t want anyone to disrespect her out of ignorance in this way but I don’t think that we should waste too much time on student union politics.’ 

Others also criticised the move. 

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘This petulant and pathetic insult to Her Majesty the Queen is childish and pointless. It will change nothing.’

Toby Young, general secretary of the Free Speech Union and himself an Oxford graduate, said: ‘The students are perfectly within their rights to remove this painting from their common room, but it is baffling that they associate the Queen with colonialism.

‘I don’t think these students realise how loved the Queen is by the people of the Commonwealth. It is only woke British students who feel offended by it.’ 

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said he ‘does not support’ the idea of removing the portrait.

‘These kind of gestures are getting a bit out of hand,’ he told Nick Ferrari on LBC. 

‘We should always respect the Queen but particularly now given things that have happened in the last few months. I don’t support that.

‘Let’s get a sense of proportion and a bit of respect. People can air their views but those kind of gestures are divisive actually – they just divide people, and I don’t think they achieve much, to be honest.’ 

 

The Queen walking through the cloisters at Magdalen College alongside college president David Clary during a visit on November 27, 2008

The Queen walking through the cloisters at Magdalen College alongside college president David Clary during a visit on November 27, 2008

In an online biography Mr Katzman lists his non-academic interests as CrossFit, poker, board games, playing the trumpet and Spartan Races - a popular series of long-distance obstacle courses

In an online biography Mr Katzman lists his non-academic interests as CrossFit, poker, board games, playing the trumpet and Spartan Races – a popular series of long-distance obstacle courses

Speaking to MailOnline, he said that the move was intended to make the common room a 'neutral place for all members regardless of background, demographic, or views'

Speaking to MailOnline, he said that the move was intended to make the common room a ‘neutral place for all members regardless of background, demographic, or views’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured) has slammed the 'absurd' cancelling of the Queen by Oxford students

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured) has slammed the ‘absurd’ cancelling of the Queen by Oxford students

Magdalen’s rich history of kings and cognoscenti, from Laurence of Arabia to George Osborne  

Founded in 1458, Magdalen boasts a history of illustrious connections.

Henry VIII’s Archbishop Thomas Wolsey was an early alumni, and the college was also visited by Edward IV, Richard III and James I.

More recent alumni include – 

  • John Betjeman, poet 
  • Lord Alfred Douglas, poet
  • King Edward VIII
  • Malcolm Fraser, ex-Australian PM
  • William Hague, former Tory leader
  • Robert Hardy, actor
  • Ian Hislop, journalist
  • Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer winner
  • TE Lawrence, archaeologist, army officer and diplomat better known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ 
  • CS Lewis, writer
  • Dudley Moore, actor
  • George Osborne, former chancellor 
  • Dr Erwin Schrödinger, physicist 
  • Oscar Wilde, poet 
  • AJP Taylor, historian
  • Jeremy Hunt, former health secretary 
  • Andrew Lloyd-Webber, playwright.

BBC TV presenter Richard Madeley asked: ‘How can this make any sense when this queen has presided over the dismantling of what was left of empire?’ 

And Twitter user Samantha Smith added: ‘The Queen was a pioneer of anti-racism in an era of widespread segregation and apartheid.

‘Imagine trying to cancel the reigning monarch.’ 

Barrister Dinah Rose, who was appointed president of Magdalen College last year, emphasised that the students were not representative of the college, but supported their right to ‘free speech and political debate’.

In a series of tweets, she said: ‘Here are some facts about Magdalen College and HM the Queen.

‘The Middle Common Room is an organisation of graduate students. They don’t represent the College.

‘A few years ago, in about 2013, they bought a print of a photo of the Queen to decorate their common room.

‘They recently voted to take it down. Both of these decisions are their own to take, not the College’s.

‘Magdalen strongly supports free speech and political debate, and the MCR’S right to autonomy.

‘Maybe they’ll vote to put it up again, maybe they won’t. Meanwhile, the photo will be safely stored.’

She finished: ‘Being a student is about more than studying. It’s about exploring and debating ideas. It’s sometimes about provoking the older generation. Looks like that isn’t so hard to do these days.’ 

Ms Rose also said college staff had been receiving abusive messages in the wake of the scandal. 

‘So if you are one of the people currently sending obscene and threatening messages to the College staff, you might consider pausing, and asking yourself whether that is really the best way to show your respect for the Queen,’ she added. 

Ms Rose was recently criticised for representing the Cayman Islands in a legal case in which the government opposed the legality of gay marriage. The lawyer has voiced her support for LGBT rights.  

Twitter user Samantha Smith said: 'The Queen was a pioneer of anti-racism in an era of widespread segregation and apartheid. Imagine trying to cancel the reigning monarch'

Twitter user Samantha Smith said: ‘The Queen was a pioneer of anti-racism in an era of widespread segregation and apartheid. Imagine trying to cancel the reigning monarch’

How the Queen has helped change perceptions of Britain and the Royal Family

During her reign, the Queen has overseen the growth of the Commonwealth – an organisation which aims to foster international co-operation and trade links between people all over the world. 

It has brought together dozens of countries, once under British rule, to be a unified, major global force for change.

And in response to Harry and Meghan’s explosive recent claims of institutionalised racism, the Queen is to appoint a diversity tsar to modernise the Monarchy.

As part of a major drive encompassing Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace, aides will undertake a ‘listen and learn’ exercise over the coming weeks which will involve speaking to a range of businesses and individuals about how the Monarchy can improve representation.

On its website, Magdalen College Middle Common Room described itself as ‘one of the biggest graduate communities of the traditional Oxford Colleges’, with 200 members.

It states: ‘Our graduates come from many different countries throughout the world, and have diverse interests, academic and otherwise.

‘The MCR forms an integral part of the Magdalen graduate experience – not only do we organise social and cultural events for students so that we can make the utmost out of our time in Oxford, but we also provide a network of support for graduate life in representing the concerns of students to the College.’ 

Mr Williamson has been a vocal opponent of so called no-platforming of speakers on university campuses who hold controversial views.

In May, the Department for Education introduced new legislation to Parliament to protect the rights of visiting speakers through the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill.

If passed, the bill could see universities face fines if those invited to speak are cancelled as a result of their views.

For the first time, students’ unions will also be required to take steps to protect the freedom of speech for both its members and visiting speakers.

The Office for Students (OfS), the higher education regulator in England, would have the power to impose fines on institutions if they breached this condition. 

MailOnline has contacted Magdalen College (pictured) and members of the Middle Common Room executive committee for comment

MailOnline has contacted Magdalen College (pictured) and members of the Middle Common Room executive committee for comment

Now black studies professor who sparked outrage by saying the Queen is the ‘world’s number one symbol of white supremacy’

By Emer Scully  

A taxpayer-funded academic has labelled the Queen ‘the number one symbol of white supremacy in the entire world’.

Professor Kehinde Andrews, a campaigner who is regularly wheeled out on TV debates to air his divisive views, today said he did not know ‘why it’s such a big deal’ Oxford University students voted to take down a picture of the Queen from their common room.

Professor Kehinde Andrews on GMB today discussing the Magdalen row

Professor Kehinde Andrews on GMB today discussing the Magdalen row 

The professor of black studies at Birmingham City University – where senior lecturers receive an average base salary of £46,000 – has previously branded ‘whiteness’ a ‘psychosis’, called for the overthrow of ‘genocidal’ capitalism and repeatedly compared Sir Winston Churchill to Adolf Hitler.

During a debate into whether the Queen had been cancelled today, Professor Andrews told Good Morning Britain: ‘If we’re honest the Queen doesn’t just represent modern colonialism, the Queen is probably the number one symbol of white supremacy in the entire world.

‘A born to rule elite of this really white family. The head of the commonwealth which is actually the empire.’

Academics, students or visiting speakers will be able to seek compensation through the courts if they suffer loss from a breach of the free speech duties.

Mr Williamson said last month: ‘Our legal system allows us to articulate views which others may disagree with as long as they don’t meet the threshold of hate speech or inciting violence.

‘This must be defended, nowhere more so than within our world-renowned universities.’

Mr Williamson said the measures were needed to counter ‘the chilling effect of censorship on campus once and for all’. 

During her reign, the Queen has overseen the growth of the Commonwealth – an organisation which aims to foster international co-operation and trade links between people all over the world. 

It has brought together dozens of countries, once under British rule, to be a unified, major global force for change.

And in response to Harry and Meghan’s explosive recent claims of institutionalised racism, the Queen is to appoint a diversity tsar to modernise the Monarchy.

As part of a major drive encompassing Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace, aides will undertake a ‘listen and learn’ exercise over the coming weeks which will involve speaking to a range of businesses and individuals about how the Monarchy can improve representation. 

The row at Magdalen comes after another university has apologised for sending staff a photograph of Prince Philip opening its library after it sparked complaints about the Duke’s ‘history of racist and sexist comments’. 

Left-wingers working at King’s College London reacted angrily to an email bulletin they received after the Duke’s death in April, featuring a photograph of him opening the university’s Maughan Library with the Queen in 2002.

Following weeks of simmering tensions, Joleen Clarke, the associate director at King’s College libraries, sent out an extraordinary apology for the ‘harm’ caused by including the photo in her email.

‘The picture was included as a historical reference point following his death,’ she wrote last month. 

‘The inclusion of the picture was not intended to commemorate him.

‘Through feedback and subsequent conversations, we have come to realise the harm that this caused members of our community, because of his history of racist and sexist comments. We are sorry to have caused this harm.’

Free speech campaigners and MPs condemned the apology, labelling it the latest example of a ‘cancel culture’ by woke activists on university campuses. Royal experts insisted it was wrong to accuse the Prince of being racist or sexist.

MailOnline has contacted Magdalen College and members of the Middle Common Room executive committee for comment.  

From ‘white supremacy’ in the music curriculum to Cecil Rhodes’s statue: The woke rows rumbling through Oxford’s quadrangles  

Oxford University has found itself at the forefront of the culture wars at late, with ‘woke’ demands for change gaining extra momentum as Black Lives Matter protests arrived on Britain’s shores. 

Recent rows include – 

Rhodes WON’T fall: College officials decide to keep statue after student protest 

The statue of Cecil Rhodes outside Oriel College

The statue of Cecil Rhodes outside Oriel College  

The governing body of an Oxford University college last month rejected calls from an inquiry to tear down a statue of Cecil Rhodes.

Oriel College’s said they had decided not to remove the monument due to ‘considerable obstacles’, including financial costs and ‘complex’ planning processes

It came after a long-running campaign demanding the removal of the British imperialist’s monument.

An independent inquiry to examine Rhodes’ legacy was set up last June in the wake of BLM protests after the governing body ‘expressed their wish’ to remove the statue from outside the college.

A majority of members on the Commission supported the college’s original wish to remove the Rhodes’ statue.

But Oriel College said: ‘In light of the considerable obstacles to removal, Oriel’s governing body has decided not to begin the legal process for relocation of the memorials.’

The Rhodes Must Fall campaign accused Oriel College of ‘institutional racism’

Music faculty considers reforms to address ‘white hegemony’ 

In March, Oxford was considering changes to the music curriculum, including alternative titles for courses, after certain staff raised concerns about the ‘complicity in white supremacy’ in the teaching of the subject.

Professors were set to reform their music courses to move beyond the classic repertoire, which includes the likes of Beethoven and Mozart, in the wake of the BLM movement.

University staff argued that the current curriculum focuses on ‘white European music from the slave period’, according to The Telegraph.

The University of Oxford (Merton College pictured) was in March considering changes to the music curriculum, including alternative titles for courses, after certain staff raised concerns about the 'complicity in white supremacy' in the teaching of the subject

The University of Oxford (Merton College pictured) was in March considering changes to the music curriculum, including alternative titles for courses, after certain staff raised concerns about the ‘complicity in white supremacy’ in the teaching of the subject

Documents seen by the publication indicate proposed reforms to target undergraduate courses.

It claimed that teaching musical notation had ‘not shaken off its connection to its colonial past’ and would be ‘a slap in the face’ to some students.

And it added that musical skills should no longer be compulsory because the current repertoire’s focus on ‘white European music’ causes ‘students of colour great distress’.

It is thought that music writing will also be reformed to be more inclusive.

But the proposals caused upset among some faculty members who argued that it was unfair to accuse those teaching music from before 1900 of being concerned with just ‘white’.

College defies calls to remove statue of slave owner Christopher Codrington from its library after agreeing to change room’s name

All Souls College in January removed the name of an 18th century slave trader from its main library but defied calls to take down his statue (pictured)

All Souls College in January removed the name of an 18th century slave trader from its main library but defied calls to take down his statue (pictured)  

All Souls College in January removed the name of an 18th century slave trader from its main library but defied calls to take down his statue. 

The college reviewed its link to Christopher Codrington, a Barbados-born colonial governor, in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter movement.

The former fellow, who died in 1710, bequeathed £10,000 to the library which has since been unofficially known as the Codrington Library.

A marble statue by Edward Cheere of the benefactor has been standing in the library for centuries and the college says it has no plans to take it down despite the clamour from students. 

The All Souls governing body said: ‘Rather than seek to remove it the College will investigate further forms of memorialisation and contextualisation within the library, which will draw attention to the presence of enslaved people on the Codrington plantations, and will express the College’s abhorrence of slavery.’

Their review found that Codrington’s wealth ‘derived largely from his family’s activities in the West Indies, where they owned plantations worked by enslaved people of African descent’.

The college claims it has undertaken a number of measures to address the colonial legacy, including erecting a memorial plaque in memory of those who worked on the Caribbean plantations. 

The college's review found that Codrington's (pictured) wealth 'derived largely from his family’s activities in the West Indies, where they owned plantations worked by enslaved people of African descent'

The college’s review found that Codrington’s (pictured) wealth ‘derived largely from his family’s activities in the West Indies, where they owned plantations worked by enslaved people of African descent’ 

Hartlepool council will put a sign on ‘unfriendly’ monkey statue which explains the local legend of a primate hanged as a French spy during Napoleonic wars – over fears it makes town ‘unwelcoming’ to tourists

Councillors have been accused of ‘virtual-signalling gone crazy’ after insisting on adding a plaque to Hartlepool’s monkey statue over fears it could be used to depict the town as ‘unfriendly to foreigners’ in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. 

Legend says the monkey was hanged as a French spy after being washed ashore at the seaside town in County Durham following a shipwreck during the Napoleonic Wars. 

Hartlepool United’s mascot is called H’Angus the Monkey in tribute, and a man wearing his costume was famously elected mayor of the town three times after standing on a platform of ‘free bananas’. 

But the monkey’s statue – which is located in the town’s marina and is thought to date back to the 1990s – will now be fitted with an explanatory plaque over fears it could be ‘misused by those with differing agendas to portray Hartlepool as unfriendly towards foreigners’.

Legend says the monkey was hanged as a French spy after being washed ashore at the seaside town in County Durham following a shipwreck during the Napoleonic Wars. A statue of the animal is located in the town's marina

Legend says the monkey was hanged as a French spy after being washed ashore at the seaside town in County Durham following a shipwreck during the Napoleonic Wars. A statue of the animal is located in the town’s marina 

The conclusion was contained in a report – seen by The Telegraph – which was commissioned by Hartlepool Borough Council on links between statues and ‘the slave trade, colonialism, and imperialism’ began after the BLM protests. 

Historian Dr Zareer Masani criticised the move: ‘This is an example of tragedy ending as farce, virtue-signalling gone crazy. 

‘As this legend is probably a myth, will we be searching the Greek classics next for xenophobia?’

But Conservative Councillor Gordon Cranney said he had ‘no objection’ to the context of the monkey story being explained on a plaque to make it clear it had nothing to do with race. 

He told MailOnline: ‘It was a made up rumour. Hartlepool used to be split in two, West Hartlepool and then Old Hartlepool, so it was one mocking the other. 

‘Now we are classed as the monkey hangers. It has absolutely nothing to do with race – it’s an old wives tale. 

‘So I’ve got no objections to the story being explained.’  

The June 2020 report, which reviewed all monuments and street names, warned that the monkey statue – which includes a bowl to collect coins for a local hospice – ‘could be perceived negatively by some’.

A new plaque is expected to make it clear that the incident is most ‘not a factual event’. 

The council declined to say whether it was concerned about the monument being used by BLM supporters to paint the town as racist, or by the far-right. 

Hartlepool United's mascot is called H'Angus the Monkey in tribute, and a man wearing his costume was famously elected mayor of the town three times after standing on a platform of 'free bananas'

Hartlepool United’s mascot is called H’Angus the Monkey in tribute, and a man wearing his costume was famously elected mayor of the town three times after standing on a platform of ‘free bananas’

The primate hanged for being a spy: What is the Hartlepool monkey story and is there any truth to it? 

Hartlepool is famous as the place where a monkey was hanged by locals after being mistaken for a French spy, but whether the incident ever actually happened is up for debate. 

The story goes that the monkey was the only survivor from a shipwreck during the Napoleonic Wars, when fears of a French invasion were at their height. 

Having never seen a Frenchman before, locals mistook it for a ‘hairy French spy’ and put it to death on the beach. 

The legend led to the townsfolk being branded as ‘monkey hangers’, but they in turn embraced the story. 

But is it actually true? ‘There is no evidence whatsoever that the people of Hartlepool hanged a monkey,’ said Keith Gregson, a local historian, told the BBC. 

The story was first mentioned in a 1855 song by Edward ‘Ned’ Corvan, a Victorian travelling performer whose performances included mocking whichever town he was in. 

Some aspects of the legend appear to crib from another story about a baboon who is believed to have visited Newcastle with some Cossack soldiers in 1825. 

Hartlepool Borough Council itself accepts that the monkey story is ‘not a factual event’.  

A spokesperson said: ‘We are currently working on an interpretation of the Hartlepool monkey legend with the intention of installing an explanatory sign on the monkey statue at the Hartlepool Marina lock gates for the benefit of visitors

‘The statue does not belong to the Council and is not on our land, but is believed to date back to the 1990s, a time when the Teesside Development Corporation was responsible for regenerating this area.

‘We have not received any complaints about the statue, and in fact it helps raise around £2,000 a year for charity thanks to the coins deposited within it by visitors

‘In putting up an explanatory sign, we intend to liaise closely with the marina’s current owners, Hartlepool Marina Ltd.’ 

The council report made a number of other tendentious comments, including noting that a statue of Andy Capp, a comic strip character created by Reg Smythe, a local cartoonist, could be criticised for portraying a stereotypical northerner. 

Street names mentioning Winston Churchill and Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell were also mentioned over their beliefs on race. Admiral Lord Nelson and former Prime Minister William Gladstone were also referenced. 

Hartlepool recently elected a Tory MP, Jill Mortimer, for the first time since the 1970s. 

The fate of statues with links to colonialism or the slave trade has generated intense controversy after some were targeted by left-wing protesters. 

A paint-spattered statue of slave trader Edward Colston was recently installed lying down at a Bristol museum after being torn down and thrown in the harbour during a pro-BLM protest last summer. 

However, a statue of Cecil Rhodes above Oriel College in Oxford was recently spared the chop after officials noted ‘considerable obstacles’, including financial costs and ‘complex’ planning processes

An independent inquiry to examine Rhodes’ legacy was set up in June in the wake of BLM protests after the governing body ‘expressed their wish’ to remove the statue from outside the college.

A majority of members on the Commission supported the college’s original wish to remove the Rhodes’ statue, but there was a substantial backlash from donors. 

But Oriel College said: ‘In light of the considerable obstacles to removal, Oriel’s governing body has decided not to begin the legal process for relocation of the memorials.’

The Rhodes Must Fall campaign accused Oriel College of ‘institutional racism’

The fate of statues with links to colonialism or the slave trade has generated intense controversy after some were targeted by left-wing protesters. A paint-spattered statue of slave trader Edward Colston was recently installed lying down at a Bristol museum after being torn down and thrown in the harbour during a pro-BLM protest last summer

The fate of statues with links to colonialism or the slave trade has generated intense controversy after some were targeted by left-wing protesters. A paint-spattered statue of slave trader Edward Colston was recently installed lying down at a Bristol museum after being torn down and thrown in the harbour during a pro-BLM protest last summer

It came as new Church of England guidance, published last month, urged churches and cathedrals to consider the history of their buildings and the physical artefacts and how it could impact their congregations’ worship. 

Churches that have already taken action include St Margaret’s church in Rottingdean, Sussex, which has removed two ‘deeply offensive’ grave headstones which contained racial slurs.

St Peter’s Church in Dorchester has also covered a plaque commemorating a plantation owner. 

Memorials to politicians, war heroes and authors all targeted due to links to slavery and racist beliefs 

Since Edward Colston’s statue was thrown into Bristol Harbour, there has been a wave of attacks from vandals on various monuments across Britain.

A statue to Winston Churchill was defaced with the words ‘was a racist’ and ‘f*** your agenda’ written underneath the memorial to the war time PM in Westminster Square, London.

Slave trader Robert Milligan’s was covered with a shord and the message ‘Black Lives Matter’ was placed on it in West India Docks amid calls for it to be taken down. It was later removed by Tower Hamlets Council.

Tower Hamlets Council removed a statue of slave trader Robert Milligan after it was covered and displayed the message 'Black Lives Matter' during last month's protests

Tower Hamlets Council removed a statue of slave trader Robert Milligan after it was covered and displayed the message ‘Black Lives Matter’ during last month’s protests

Less than a year after it was erected, ‘Nazi’ was scrawled underneath a statue of Nancy Astor, the first woman to take a  seat in Parliament, in Plymouth.

A monument to 19th-century politician Henry Vassall-Fox, the third Baron Holland, was left splattered with red paint in Holland Park. A cardboard sign reading ‘I owned 401 slaves’ was perched in the bronze statue’s arms, with the number painted on the plinth alongside red handprints.

A Grade II-listed monument to Admiral Lord Nelson, Britain’s foremost naval hero, which stands in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, was sprayed with a black ‘V’ in the middle of a circle – an anarchist symbol.

Red paint spattered another stature of Lord Nelson at Deptford Town Hall in South London.

In Kent, a former councillor wrote ‘Dickens Racist’ outside a museum dedicated to the beloved 19th century author. Letters sent by the Oliver Twist author showed he wished to ‘exterminate’ Indian citizens after a failed uprising.

A statue of Civil War leader Oliver Cromwell in Wythenshawe Park, Manchester, had the words ‘Cromwell is a cockroach,’ ‘f*** racist’ and the Black Lives Matter acronym ‘BLM’ scrawled across it last month. Thousands of people were massacred during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.

BLM was also scrawled across the Worcester Civil War memorial in Royal Park.


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