OWNER of Morecambe's Midland Hotel, Les Whittingham is facing prison unless he pays his legal costs and puts the Eric Gill relief sculpture in the original position. Lancaster City Council is considering taking Mr Whittingham to the High Court for contempt of court over the costs payment and display issues after they won a court action against him to have the sculpture returned. But Mr Whittingham said the council had not bothered to check the date by which the money has to be paid (it has been put back another month) and argued he could put the sculpture where he liked.

"This is pure vindictiveness," he said. Before adding he always intended to pay the legal costs.

Meanwhile chuch campaigners are trying to ban the work of artist Eric Gill because he was an alleged paedophile. The group called Christian Survivors of Sexual Abuse want to ban Gill's work from Westminster Cathedral after it emerged in a biography on the artist that he had sex with two of his three daughters and two of his sisters.

The campaigners have no plans to ban his work generally, but owner of the Midland Hotel, Les Whittingham said he had tried to prevent the sculpture being returned from the Barbican Centre in London partly because of Gill's perversity. Lancaster City Council took Mr Whittingham and the Barbican to court to have the sculpture returned. Mr Whittingham said: "I said in court 'why should I display the work of a paedophile?' and they just stared with their mouths open.

He added: "Gill has an image on our ceiling of himself as Christ in the form of Triton with holes in his hands and feet. It's also got his sister and brother-in-law on it and reads 'hear old Triton blowth his wreathed horn.'

I talked to someone from the Catholic press and they were appalled."

the Eric Gill ceiling image

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