UK teenager fined for spraying 'racist' on Winston Churchill statue

A statue of Winston Churchill was defaced.
A statue of Winston Churchill was defaced. Photo credit: Getty Images

A UK teenager has been fined after pleading guilty to spray painting the words "is a racist" on a Winston Churchill statue during a protest in London.

Eighteen-year-old Benjamin Clark defaced the statue on September 10 - the last day in a series of protests run by the Extinction Rebellion movement. 

He used bright yellow paint, given to him at the protest, to write the words on the base of the statue and has denied causing any other damage.

Clark admitted to causing £1642.03 (NZ$3215.64) worth of damage at the Westminster Magistrates' Court, and was ordered to pay a £200 (NZ$391.67) fine and £1200 (NZ$2350) in compensation alongside court costs. 

Clark was sent death threats to his home and his father's workplace and faced a number of people shouting abuse towards him as he walked into court, The Daily Mail reports. 

Threats included people telling Clark he should be hung.

During the sentencing, District Judge Tan Ikarm said his actions had been viewed as offensive.

"You've caused great offence it appears to a lot of people and I'm told it has provoked a very strong reaction."

Clark's lawyer Laura O'Brien said he was an intelligent student who acted under impulse and didn't plan to deface the statue when he joined in on the protest.

"He did not attend the scene with spray paint, he did not attend the scene with the intent to damage the statue," she said.

O'Brien was concerned the case would become more about the politics of Churchill and the offence Clark has caused rather than the paint.

"This should not be about Mr Clark offending the history of this country. We are here to deal with a small amount of paint on a statue."

Clark was one of at least 680 people arrested in connection with the London Extinction Rebellion protests.