Saturday, 26 Sep 2020

Winston Churchill's picture vanishes from Google

Winston Churchill’s picture mysteriously vanishes from Google’s list of British Prime Ministers amid furious row over statue of wartime leader

  • Wartime leader’s picture has vanished from Google’s list of British leaders
  • Clement Attlee and Neville Chamberlain’s images still show without issues
  • Black Lives Matter protesters have called for his monument to be removed 

Winston Churchill’s picture has disappeared from Google’s list of British prime ministers as protesters call for his statue to be torn down.

The wartime leader is the only prime minister to be left without a photo. 

Clement Attlee, Neville Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin, who all served before Churchill, are still displayed with their images.

It comes amid an escalating row over whether Churchill should be commemorated in parliament square.

Black Lives Matter figurehead Imarn Ayton, 29, who has given speeches alongside Star Wars actor John Boyega, said yesterday the monument is offensive and should be moved to a museum.

And his granddaughter Emma Soames, after seeing the statue daubed with ‘was a racist’, said that if people were ‘so infuriated’ it may be ‘safer’ in a museum.

Winston Churchill’s picture has disappeared from Google’s list of UK prime ministers. All other former heads of state are still pictured

Churchill’s picture is also no longer displayed alongside the short description about him, that appears when his icon is clicked on. Other prime ministers images are still appearing

The wartime leader’s statue in parliament square has been covered up to protect it from further damage during protests

His image is not showing up in the UK, US, Australia and South Africa, according to social media users.

The disappearance of his picture has been slammed as ‘disgraceful’ and ‘disgusting’. 

A request to Google for information on why the image has been removed read: ‘The images on the search results are taken from Wikipedia, it’s not clear to me why this would break in only the UK and the US.

‘It’s especially interesting given the current controversy around Churchill in our countries. Even more interesting is that pictures of Hitler, Stalin and Mao are shown with no issues.’

A platinum product expert for Google responded saying the image appears to be a ‘default’, although it is unclear why Churchill’s is absent.

Google SearchLiaison said in a statement: ‘We’re aware an image for Sir Winston Churchill is missing from his Knowledge Graph entry on Google. We apologise for any concern. This was not purposeful and will be resolved.

‘Images in such panels are automatically created and updated. During an update, they can briefly disappear.

‘We don’t have an exact time for when Churchill’s Knowledge Graph image will be restored, but it will be as rapidly done as possible.’ 

Churchill’s image still appears on Wikipedia, even though it has disappeared from Google

Black Lives Matter activist Imam Ayton, 29, has said Churchill’s statue in Westminster should be removed as it is ‘offensive’

Churchill’s statue in Westminster was daubed with ‘was a racist’ by protesters during an anti-racism march in the capital

Ms Ayton, 29, told BBC Radio 4 yesterday: ‘Yes I do. I believe these statues should be moved to a museum I think it’s a win win for everyone.

‘It no longer offends the black nation, but we get to keep our history and keep those that would like to see that.

Asked why Churchill’s statue was offensive, she said: ‘Any statue of people who has spoken negatively towards black people is going to be offensive. Any man.’

Activists have daubed the words ‘was a racist’ on the statue during angry anti-racism demonstrations last weekend.

His granddaughter Emma Soames told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she felt ‘extraordinarily sad that my grandfather, who was such a unifying figure in this country, appears to have become a sort of icon through being controversial’.

She said if people were ‘so infuriated’ by seeing the statue, it may be ‘safer’ in a museum.

Churchill’s statue in parliament square, Westminster, has been covered up for its protection

The statue is pictured covered over on Friday ahead of further anti-racism protests in London

But Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames swiftly condemned any attempt to move it from the spot the former PM had chosen before he died in 1965.

‘I will have nothing of taking statues down and putting them in museums,’ he said.

Sir Nicholas told protesters to ‘read your history and grow up’, and said it was ‘rubbish’ and a ‘lunatic representation’ to call his grandfather racist. He told LBC: ‘All his life he fought fascism.’

The Mail on Sunday has launched a petition urging Boris Johnson to make a public pledge that the monument to Britain’s celebrated wartime leader will never be removed. 

Churchill, who was Prime Minister twice, is considered a national hero and often leads polls on who was the greatest-ever Briton. His picture was chosen to appear on the new polymer £5 notes.

Other statues, including Nelson Mandela’s, have also been covered in order to protect them

The Cenotaph war memorial has also had covers placed around it to protect it from damage

However, critics say his legacy is tarnished by controversial remarks he made about different races and his role in the Bengal famine in 1943 after Allied forces halted food supplies, leading to an estimated 3 million deaths.

Mr Johnson, who wrote a biography of Churchill in 2014, acknowledged the former PM had expressed opinions which were ‘unacceptable to us today’, but he remained a hero for saving Britain from ‘fascist and racist tyranny’. However, Mr Johnson was coming under increasing pressure last night to promise that the statue was going nowhere, amid a chorus of support for our petition.

Google has been contacted for comment. 

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