Cheltenham Banksy: Man quizzed over 'Spy Booth' house damage

Defaced Banksy artwork Image copyright David Houghton
Image caption Silver and red graffiti was sprayed over the Banksy artwork two weeks ago

A man has been questioned by council officers who used a warrant to enter a Cheltenham house which has been at the centre of a Banksy graffiti tussle.

Cheltenham Borough Council said it was probing "substantial work" carried out on the listed building where the 'Spy Booth' artwork appeared in April.

Days ago vandals attacked the wall for a second time, with large drill holes appearing around the mural.

The council said it was investigating a potential criminal offence.

"Evidence is being gathered and investigations continue" said the council, which earlier confirmed no listed building consent had been sought for the house.

Listed building consent is required from the local authority, before any work is done to the fabric of a listed property.

The holes drilled in the wall around the mural could be seen a contravention of the regulations.

Gloucestershire Police said its officers were present when council officials went into the house but "purely from a public safety perspective" to ensure there was "no breach of the peace in the area".

Image copyright Hekmat Kaveh
Image caption Four large holes appeared around the mural a few days ago

Restoration hope

After the holes appeared, businessman Hekmat Kaveh - who has offered funds to buy the house to ensure the mural stays in the town - said he thought an attempt was being made to remove it.

Since the end of June campaigners have been working to reverse a plan to remove and sell the mural by raising up to £1m to buy the building and the graffiti on it.

The GCHQ-themed mural remains covered in silver and red graffiti, after it was vandalised two weeks ago.

A professional art conservator has visited the mural and said it could be saved but might take months to restore.

"We've established it's possible to get the [graffiti] tags off safely without unduly affecting the materials underneath," said Tom Organ.

"Now we have to also look at the anti-graffiti coating, and assess whether that, in itself, might cause any problems in the long term."

Mr Organ added it would take "weeks if not months" to restore the mural.

Campaigners have spent months trying to keep the artwork in situ on the corner of Fairview Road and Hewlett Road, after the owners of the house claimed it had been sold and workmen arrived to remove it.

However Cheltenham Borough Council issued a temporary stop notice preventing further work from taking place on the Grade II* listed building.

Image caption A professional art restorer assessed the damage to the Banksy and said it could be restored

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