Who was Brian Haw? Statue to be installed in south London

Brian Haw, the anti-war protester, in Parliament Square, London in 2006 (Richard Keith Wolff/PA)
Brian Haw, the anti-war protester, in Parliament Square, London in 2006 (Richard Keith Wolff/PA)

A statue of the tenacious peace campaigner Brian Haw is to be installed in south London following a crowdfunding campaign.

Supporters including Sir Mark Rylance and Brian Eno have donated.

Rylance – a patron of the Stop the War coalition and charity Peace Direct – described him as “one of the greatest Englishmen that I’ve met in my life in terms of being a person who listened to his conscience”.

Who was Brian Haw?

Brian Haw was a peace campaigner who was famous for spending a decade camped outside the Palace of Westminster in Parliament Square.

He was protesting against UK and US foreign policy, and died from lung cancer aged 62 in June 2011.

In 2001 he began protesting in Westminster and was frequently surrounded by several anti-war placards, while shouting through his megaphone at politicians going into work.

He was closely associated with dissent against the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq and would often be helped by passers-by, including the Oscar-winning actor Sir Mark Rylance.

Speaking to the BBC, Rylance previously explained: “I had a lot of jobs in the West End and I live in south London so my route home after the show … often was through Parliament Square, and so when I was on my bicycle, I would always stop and have a word with him, and give him 20 quid or whatever I had in my pocket.”

Mr Haw proved to be a nuisance for the police, politicians, Westminster City Council and the mayor of London at the time. Attempts were made to remove him from his pitch, take him to court, and to remove his megaphone.

In 2005, legislation was passed by Westminster specifically to try to force him to leave, with all unauthorised protests within a square mile of Parliament being banned.

But he remained resolute, stating that his campaign began long before the act was passed, so the exclusion zone did not apply in his case.

Where will the Brian Haw statue be installed?

The 72cm-tall bronze maquette will be placed opposite the big guns of the Imperial War Museum, within an exterior alcove at the School of Historical Dress in south London, just outside the exclusion zone created in 2005 to dissuade the activist. It is being designed by artist Amanda Ward.

In February a crowdfunding campaign was launched, which aimed to raise £50,000, with people asked to donate £1. Organisers now believe enough donations have been made for installation work to begin.

At the time of the launch, Rylance described Mr Haw as “a remarkable person in the history of London” who “was a constant voice at Westminster for longer than most prime ministers”.

It’s hoped the monument will remind people of the importance of public campaigning.

Rylance said: “It’s a wonderful aspect and privilege of our lives here in London, that protests are possible. I think it’s a very important part of society, and one that the authorities are obviously trying more and more now to constrain and that, I think, would be a great loss.

“So that’s another good reason that we get him there where he should be, protesting, standing peacefully across from the Imperial War Museum.”