The Daily Telegraph

Oxford’s Cecil Rhodes statue will stay until at least January 2021

- By Daily Telegraph Reporter

THE statue of Cecil Rhodes outside Oxford University will not fall until at least 2021 as the public’s views on its removal are sought.

The governing body of Oriel College “expressed their wish” to remove the statue of the British imperialis­t last month following a reignited campaign for it to be taken down.

An independen­t commission, set up by the Oxford college to examine the statue’s future, will publish its findings in Jan 2021. No action will be taken before then.

Broadcaste­r Zeinab Badawi, the former Conservati­ve shadow culture secretary Peter Ainsworth and Oriel College’s alumni advisory committee chairman Geoffrey Austin will sit on the inquiry group into the statue and associated issues.

The commission, while noting the governing body’s wish to see the Rhodes statue removed, has licence to consider a full range of options. A public notice will be posted near the statue with details of the commission and how people can contribute their views.

Written and oral submission­s will be requested, and it is intended that some oral evidence sessions will be held in public.

It comes after a long-running campaign demanding the removal of the Rhodes statue gained renewed attention amid the Black Lives Matter movement.

In 2016, Oriel College decided to keep the controvers­ial statue in place following a consultati­on despite protests from campaigner­s.

Carole Souter, Master of St Cross College and chairwoman of the commission, said: “I would like to express my personal gratitude, and that of the governing body of Oriel College, to all of the new commission­ers for agreeing to undertake this timely and important work.

“Each of them has already made a significan­t contributi­on to the advancemen­t of knowledge, access and diversity within their relevant sphere of expertise.

“I look forward to chairing their discussion­s on how the Rhodes legacy can best inform the future of Oriel College.”

The Rhodes Must Fall campaign group said: “This is potentiall­y an epoch-defining moment at Oxford.

“As such, we believe that our actions moving forward must give confidence to the voices who will come after us, so that they too can align themselves with a decolonial movement.

“We are determined that if we can get this process ‘right’ at Oxford, then it will be a hallmark for and testament to, the hopes and aspiration­s of decolonial movements everywhere.”

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