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6 Jan, 2022 13:28

Minister condemns ‘mob rule’ after jury acquits ‘Colston four’

Grant Shapps said the protesters who toppled slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol should have done it ‘through the ballot box’
Minister condemns ‘mob rule’ after jury acquits ‘Colston four’

UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps has reacted angrily to a Bristol jury’s ruling, as four people were cleared of causing criminal damage after toppling a listed statue of Edward Colston during 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests.

Speaking to LBC Radio on Thursday, Transport Minister Grant Shapps underlined his anger at the clearing of four people by jurors following a trial at Bristol Crown Court. 

The so-called ‘Colston Four’ were charged with causing criminal damage after they toppled the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol during Black Lives Matter protests which spread to the UK in June 2020.

“We must live in a society where people can’t go around destroying public property and be able to walk away from it,” Shapps told presenter Nick Ferrari.

The minister said that the government was bringing in new measures to ensure that gaps in the existing legal system are plugged.

He said that if someone wants to take down a statue or change something that’s in the public realm, “that’s absolutely legitimate.” 

“But that is done through the ballot box, that is done through petitioning your local councilor. Get yourself elected, do it the right way; we can’t have mob rule as the way forward,” he added.  

Wednesday’s verdict has caused controversy, with some praising the jurors for standing up for a legitimate cause, and others slamming them for failing to uphold the rule of law. 

A crowd of supporters waited outside the court and cheered upon hearing the ruling. One of the acquitted celebrated by taking the knee in front of the gathered press.