Wife of Charles Dickens museum yob says graffiti is NOT vandalism as she defends him over arrest


THE wife of a yob who vandalised the Charles Dickens museum insisted today that his graffiti isn’t vandalism.

Ex-councillor Ian Driver was arrested after scrawling “Dickens Racist” on the outside of the museum and tried to black out the Dickens Road street sign in Broadstairs, Kent.

The former Green Party councillor claimed responsibility for the attack that unfolded in the early hours of Saturday – saying he had “no regrets” and would be making “no apology”.

Speaking at their family home in Broadstairs today, his wife Jo Driver, 60, defended her husband after his arrest.

She said: “Ian said he was scared that people would come to the house to threaten him because he put it all on his blog.

“But I said if they do, they are racist.

It’s not vandalism is it? It’s the principle of the matter and that’s more important than the money it costs.

“It’s not a crime – they can treat it as one but he hasn’t really committed a crime as such – or a serious one. He didn’t hurt anyone.

“And he didn’t damage anything – he just grafittied and it can just be painted over.

“Of course I support the message he is trying to get across. I wouldn’t be married to him if I did not agree with his politics.”

Mr Driver had said: “I did the right thing and would do it again if needs be.” 

It’s not vandalism is it. It’s the principle of the matter and that’s more important than the money it costs.

The Sun Online revealed today that Kent Police arrested the 63-year-old from Broadstairs “on suspicion of causing criminal damage”.

Cops tonight charged Mr Driver with criminal damage and he will appear before Medway JPs tomorrow.

As well as defacing the Dickens Museum, Mr Driver is also accused of targeting council offices, the office of the Broadstairs Folk Week, the box protecting the controversial Uncle Mack memorial plaque and two street signs in town and Ramsgate.

He said he was inspired by Broadstairs Town Council’s decision to retain the Uncle Mack memorial and Thanet Council’s review of its “publicly funded racist properties and activities”.

Mrs Driver said cops came to arrest her husband around 8am and took him to Margate police station.

He called her around 1pm and “seemed to be doing well and was in good spirits”.

She added her husband had “expected to be arrested so it’s not really a surprise.”

And she slammed Kent Police as “over the top” for coming to the family home to arrest him and pursuing damages, but believes her husband is “looking forward to defending himself in court”.

It comes after scores of statues were vandalised or pulled down in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests against racism throughout the country.

Winston Churchill’s statue was defaced in central London and slave trader Edward Colston’s memorial was tossed into the harbour in Bristol last month.

Mr Driver branded Broadstairs “racism on sea” in his blog post.

Writing on his blog, the brazen former local politician for Thanet said: “Just in case you hadn’t already guessed, I was responsible for the spate of graffiti in Broadstairs and Ramsgate.”

The museum represents historic racism and therefore deserves to be tarnished, he alleged.

Mr Driver went on: “I selected the targets as they represent the deep-rooted institutional racism of Broadstairs Town and Thanet District councils.

“Broadstairs Dickens Week and Folk Week charities openly support, celebrate, and fund with public money, offensive blacked up Morris dancers, Uncle Mack’s blacked up Minstrel show memorial, and genocidal racists such as Charles Dickens and King Leopold of Belgium.”

The vandal revealed that the council’s lack of interest in his “personal protest” has led him to graffiti.

Driver continued: “I have been campaigning against, what I believe to be, the institutional racism of the Broadstairs and Dickens and Folk week events and the Broadstairs and Thanet councils for several years but to no avail.

“I have now been forced, by the inaction, of these organisations to take direct measures to expose the appalling racism of our local government and some of our major charities who are being funded by the councils.

“Although I live here and love the place, in my opinion Broadstairs richly deserves the epithet Racism-on-Sea.

“My actions are nothing to do with the Black Lives Matter movement, of which I am a supporter, and are purely part of my own individual protest for which I alone am responsible.”

The toppling of the statue of slave owner Edward Colston in Bristol inspired Driver – and he maintains that defacing memorials is a “legitimate” part of protest.

“I fully support and encourage this form of political expression wherever and whenever it is necessary, especially in my hometown which, to its shame, is rapidly becoming known as Racism-On-Sea”, he added.

The Dickens House Museum in Broadstairs, Kent, was the inspiration for Betsey Trotwood’s home in David Copperfield, and Dickens is known to have visited regularly.

While a beloved British author behind many classics, Dickens’ writing has been criticised as antisemitic and racist, with racial slurs against Indians documented.

In a 1857 letter reacting to an uprising in India, he wrote he would like to “exterminate the Race from the face of the earth”.

And while he was known to be a champion of the poor, he often defended colonialism.

The property, named ‘Dickens House’ before the end of the 19th century, was bought by the Tattam family in 1919.

In 1973 it was gifted to the town by Dora Tattam and opened as a museum according to the terms of her will.

The character Betsey Trotwood is based on Miss Mary Pearson Strong who lived in the cottage that is now the museum.

According to Charles Dickens’ son Charley, he and his father regularly had tea and cakes in the parlour with Miss Pearson Strong.


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