Bizarre Commons row over historic bust of Oliver Cromwell

A Labour MP has vowed defiance after Commons officials moved a bust of Oliver Cromwell and installed a tamper alarm to stop him turning it to face the wall.

The historic statue of the Lord Protector was relocated from its prime spot outside the Members’ Tea Room for ‘health and safety’ reasons after the year-long campaign by veteran backbencher Stephen Pound.

One senior Labour MP accused Mr Pound of behaving like ‘a total pr***’ – but other politicians said the Commons authorities had ‘panicked’ and overreacted to his protest.

Mr Pound told MailOnline he had still not given up on getting rid of the ‘butcher’ – blamed in some quarters for ethnic cleansing of Catholics in Ireland – but complained that the bust had now been placed near his office at Westminster. ‘Somebody’s got a sense of humour,’ he said.  

The historic statue of the Lord Protector was relocated from its prime spot outside the members' tea room for 'health and safety' reasons

The historic statue of the Lord Protector was relocated from its prime spot outside the members' tea room for 'health and safety' reasons

The historic statue of the Lord Protector was relocated from its prime spot outside the members’ tea room for ‘health and safety’ reasons

The bust of the Lord Protector was repeatedly turned around by a prankster to face the wall 

The bust of the Lord Protector was repeatedly turned around by a prankster to face the wall 

The bust of the Lord Protector was repeatedly turned around by a prankster to face the wall 

Cromwell was a Roundhead leader against the Royalists in the 17th Century English Civil War, and became Lord Protector – effectively monarch and PM combined – after the execution of King Charles in 1649. 

His reputation is controversial, with some praising his efforts to unite and modernise the country, while others accuse him of slaughtering Catholics in Ireland. 

The bust, thought to be the only statue of Cromwell on the parliamentary estate, had been positioned in a stairwell beside the Members’ Team Room.

But in the Autumn of 2017 the House authorities were forced to intervene when it was repeatedly turned to face the wall.

The artwork was cordoned off with a sign saying: ‘Fragile — please do not touch.’ 

They have also appealed for help in catching the prankster. 

However, the meddling persisted, and a few months ago the bust was shifted to 1 Parliament Street – near Mr Pound’s office.  

Mr Pound said he had been ‘dobbed in’ by colleagues. ‘The butcher turned up on my doorstep.’ 

The MP said he still hoped to get the bust removed from Parliament altogether. 

‘I am in negotiations with the authorities. His butcher stare gets me every morning when I come in,’ he said.

‘They have put a tremble alarm on it.’ 

He added: ‘I don’t know about health and safety, but he had better watch out for his health and safety.’ 

Mr Pound said a ‘complicating factor’ was that Jeremy Corbyn did not share his hatred of Cromwell. 

A senior Labour MP told MailOnline of Mr Pound: ‘He is being a total prick.’ 

But Tory MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said the authorities had been far too sensitive. 

Stephen Pound said he had been 'dobbed in' by colleagues over the protest, but still hoped to have the bust removed from Parliament

Stephen Pound said he had been 'dobbed in' by colleagues over the protest, but still hoped to have the bust removed from Parliament

Stephen Pound said he had been ‘dobbed in’ by colleagues over the protest, but still hoped to have the bust removed from Parliament

‘The whole thing is stupid. They panic about the smallest thing. It is crazy,’ he said.

‘It could have cost thousands of pounds.’ 

Commons sources suggested the cost of moving the bust and installing an alarm had been ‘minimal’.

A House spokesman said: ‘In common with museums and galleries, individuals on the Parliamentary Estate are asked not to touch any statues, paintings or other works of art on display, due to the risk of damage to the artworks. 

‘Anyone found to be doing so will be reminded of the rules.’   

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