Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said harassment of women lobbying for 19th-century novelist Jane Austen’s image to appear on U.K. banknotes was “shocking” and the perpetrators should be prosecuted.
“It was shocking, it should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Carney said in a Channel 4 television interview yesterday. “This institution, myself personally, have nothing but admiration” for the women who raised the issue, including Labour Party lawmaker Stella Creasy and journalist Caroline Criado-Perez, he said.
Criado-Perez, who led the campaign to get Austen’s image printed on a new banknote, complained about sexual abuse from comments posted on Twitter. Creasy also reported abusive comments posted online, including a rape threat, to police. London’s Metropolitan Police said yesterday a 32-year-old man was arrested in Bristol in connection with the allegations. It’s the third arrest police have announced.
The Austen campaign arose after Carney’s predecessor, Mervyn King, announced that former Prime Minister Winston Churchill would replace Elizabeth Fry, a 19th-century social reformer, on the five-pound note starting in 2016. The change would have meant no female historical figure appeared on U.K. banknotes. Carney said last month an Austen note would appear within a year of the Churchill note.
“It’s important that we get across to people across the country as much as possible what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it, and doing it in a transparent way, and if we’ve made a mistake that people understand we recognize that,” Carney said yesterday.