British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday criticised an educational charity—originally founded in memory of Sir Winston Churchill—after it was accused of scrubbing the former wartime prime minister off its website.
Johnson, who wrote a book titled “The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History,” said the charity’s move airbrushed Churchill’s “giant achievements and service” to the UK. He said the move was “completely absurd, misguided, and wrong.”
The charity denied disowning Churchill and said Johnson was misled by reports.
It emerged on Wednesday that the charity—originally named The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust—recently changed its name to The Churchill Fellowship, a name which Chief Executive Julia Weston says “reflects who we are today.”
In a statement published in June, the charity said it shares the opinion that many of Churchill’s views on race are “unacceptable today.”
Unnamed volunteers of the charity told the Sun that the new website also removed every picture of Churchill, along with a list of his achievements, his full biography, and a 1,400-word tribute to Churchill calling him a “much-loved leader.”
“The man who saved this nation in our darkest hour finds himself cancelled,” the tabloid quoted a volunteer.
One of the pictures was restored on Thursday with a new statement, which denied “disowning Sir Winston,” and said the original name needed simplifying because it “was confusing to people and did not explain what we do.”
Johnson urged the charity to rethink its move.
“The Prime Minister believes that Winston Churchill was a hero who helped save this country and the whole of Europe from a fascist and a racist tyranny by leading the defeat of Nazism,” his spokesman said.
“It is completely absurd, misguided, and wrong to airbrush his giant achievements and service to this country,” he said. “The trust should think again.”
In a statement emailed to The Epoch Times, the Churchill Fellowship said the prime minister “has been misinformed on the facts of this story.”
“As we said in the statement on our website yesterday, we are proud of Sir Winston’s contribution to saving the world from Nazism and of our connection to him. We have not attempted to disown him and are happy to republish his photo. The proof of all this is that Sir Winston’s grandson, former MP Sir Nicholas Soames, has declared his full support for our work and our new name,” the statement reads.
The charity on Thursday quoted Soames as saying he and his family “fully and unreservedly, support the remarkable work of the Churchill Fellowship, which is the truly wonderful living memorial to Sir Winston Churchill.”
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was one of several such memorials set up in 1965 after Churchill’s death.
It’s an educational programme that awards fellowships to 150 UK citizens every year, offering them opportunities to learn worldwide and inspire change in the UK, the website states.
According to the website of the Australian Winston Churchill Trust, which is independent of its British counterpart, Churchill suggested “something like the Rhodes Scholarships, but available to all people and on a much wider basis” when Prince Phillip asked him what type of memorial he would like so that the world could remember him.
This report has been updated with the response from The Churchill Fellowship.