Send people who vandalise memorials to 'battle camp', says minister

Send protesters who vandalise public memorials to ‘battle camp’ so they understand the Armed Forces, says minister Penny Mordaunt

  • Penny Mordaunt said those who vandalise memorials should go to ‘battle camp’
  • Paymaster general said they needed to learn about work of the Armed Forces 
  • Statue of Churchill was targeted in the London race protests earlier this month 

People caught vandalising public memorials should be sent to ‘battle camp’ to learn about the Armed Forces, a senior minister has said. 

Penny Mordaunt said the scenes at the Cenotaph and other sites during Black Lives Matter and Far Right demonstrations had been ‘disturbing’.

In a letter to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland seen by her local Portsmouth News paper, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘In desecrating such memorials some protesters sent a message to veterans and all those in uniform today: your life doesn’t matter to me.

‘Whatever the motivations for such acts, they should be condemned in the strongest terms and are totally against the values of the people of our country, of every creed and colour.

Penny Mordaunt said the scenes at the Cenotaph and other sites during Black Lives Matter and Far Right demonstrations had been ‘disturbing’

The statue of Churchill was daubed with the word ‘racist’ during protests earlier this month

‘I would like to suggest that for some found guilty of vandalising such memorials they might benefit from some time spent with our service personnel – perhaps at a battle camp.

‘That might give them a new appreciation of just what these people go through for their sakes. They are their armed forces. They should be respected and treasured.’

The intervention comes after both Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned violence during protests, saying the race equality demonstrations in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota had been ‘hijacked’. 

The government has pledged that those who attack the police or carry out vandalism will face the full force of the law, with magistrates ordered to fast-track cases.

A campaign has been under way to take down monuments to historical figures accused of having views that would be unacceptable today. 

There was an outcry after an attempt was made to burn a flag on the Cenotaph, while the statue of Churchill was daubed with the word ‘racist’. 

It was then covered up at the weekend to protect it from damage, provoking further anger.

Amid mounting cultural tensions, Mr Johnson vowed to fight with ‘every breath’ to keep the statue of the famous wartime leader safe.

He insisted statues represented the country’s history and should not be removed or defaced without any democratic process. 

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