Rishi Sunak slams spray paint incident at Stonehenge as ‘disgraceful act’

190624 Stonehenge spray
The ancient monument in Wiltshire was sprayed with orange paint. Credit: Just Stop Oil

The Prime Minister has described the spraying of orange paint on Stonehenge by Just Stop Oil activists as “a disgraceful act of vandalism” as two people were arrested on suspicion of damaging the monument.

Members of the public were heard shouting “no” and running to intervene as the campaigners, named by the group as Rajan Naidu, 73, and Niamh Lynch, 21, ran up to the stone circle on Wednesday.

Video footage posted on social media showed two people wearing white shirts with the slogan Just Stop Oil, approaching the monoliths with canisters spraying orange powder paint.

Several of the iconic stones – dating back to the late Neolithic period – were seen covered in orange paint before one protester sat on the grass and the other was detained by a member of the public.

Video posted by Just Stop Oil appears to show activists from the group spraying Stonehenge

Mr Sunak said: “This is a disgraceful act of vandalism to one of the UK’s and the world’s oldest and most important monuments.

“Just Stop Oil should be ashamed of their activists, and they and anyone associated with them, including a certain Labour Party donor, should issue a condemnation of this shameful act immediately.”

A spokesperson for Wilshire Police said: "We have arrested two people following an incident at Stonehenge this afternoon.

"At around noon, we responded to a report that orange paint had been sprayed on some of the stones by two suspects.

"Officers attended the scene and arrested two people on suspicion of damaging the ancient monument.

"Our enquiries are ongoing, and we are working closely with English Heritage."

The action has been condemned on social media.

British actor and writer Jolyon Rubinstein posted on X: "There is absolutely no justification for this action.

"It is just ludicrous vandalism."

Another X user posted: "Disgraceful behaviour. Target the culprits and not ancient monuments."

Another wrote: "Vandalism at an ancient and beautiful site so sad."

The protest comes just hours before celebrations are taking place at the monument to mark Summer Solstice. Credit: English Heritage

The protest comes just hours ahead of celebrations to mark the Summer Solstice.

Thousands of people gather at the historical site to celebrate the year's longest day from Thursday evening (20 June) into the early hours of Friday morning. (21 June)

According to English Heritage, Stonehenge was built to align with the sun on the solstices, and on the summer solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone in the north-east part of the horizon and its first rays shine into the heart of Stonehenge.

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