BBC Turns Down Statue of 'Left-Wing' George Orwell (Report)

Mark Thompson
Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Outgoing director general Mark Thompson deems the former BBC journalist too liberal for a memorial outside the broadcaster's London headquarters.

LONDON – Former BBC journalist, writer and novelist George Orwell is at the center of a posthumous political dust up with his former employers.

Proposals by the George Orwell Memorial Trust to make and erect a statue for the English novelist outside the BBC's headquarters in central London have been turned down.

According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, outgoing BBC director general Mark Thompson said the statue could not be erected on BBC premises because Orwell was “too Left-wing.”

According to Baroness Bakewell, who is backing the campaign for the statue, writes in the newspaper Wednesday that the BBC should "honor the greatest British journalist of his day" with a statue in the piazza outside the new Broadcasting House in Oxford Circus, central London.

But she claims Thompson, who is currently on leave between the broadcaster's London 2012 Olympic Games campaign and the broadcaster's upcoming Paralympic Games coverage plans, told her earlier this year his views.

A number of high profile serving BBC journalists, including Andrew Marr and James Naughtie, have helped to raise more than £60,000 ($94,500) for it to be made.

Orwell's BBC stint as a journalist saw him produce radio programs at Broadcasting House during WW2 before leaving to publish his celebrated novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Thompson could not be reached for comment.

The BBC confirmed to The Telegraph that plans for the Orwell statue to be situated in the piazza had been turned down.

The area outside the BBC's headquarters already houses Mark Pimlott’s £1.6 million ($2.5 million) work "World".

A BBC spokesman told the newspaper: "We cannot put the statue immediately outside New Broadcasting House as the BBC piazza already has artwork by Mark Pimlott built into the pavement which would be obscured. We are, however, working with Westminster city council and those involved with the statue to find an appropriate location nearby."

The statue has been commissioned by the George Orwell Memorial Trust, which is run by Ben Whitaker, a former Labour politician.

Martin Jennings, the sculptor who created the John Betjeman statue in St Pancras Station, has been commissioned to create it.

Orwell's BBC resume also boasts a stint with the BBC’s Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943, producing broadcasts to India designed to counter Nazi propaganda.