Banksy is a vandal. Why hasn’t he been locked up?

Graffiti 'artist' is a generous term.

A mural by the secretive street “artist” Banksy has accidentally been reduced to rubble by a workman carrying out repairs on a residential property in Gloucestershire. The local council has promised to investigate. The incident has sparked outrage, sorrow and disappointment among Banksy fans across the globe.

Well, let’s not cry over spilt milk. No great loss, I’d say.

“Spy Booth”, the image that was destroyed, depicted three figures spying, or snooping, on a phone box. The significance of this – “significance” being something of a tall order – is that the “artwork” was on a wall three miles away from the UK government’s listening post, GCHQ.

The owner of the house in question, a Mr Possee, claims that he was once offered over £1million for this mural.

Now bureaucrats have waded in, with a council enforcement manager warning the public against interfering with the rubble and advising that because it has listed status nobody should try to remove any of it. To do so “may be classed as a criminal offence.”

This is reflective of the utter madness surrounding Banksy. Surely he is the vandal, and therefore surely he is guilty of the criminal offence to begin with?

When did removing some bricks from a pile of rubble constitute criminality and scarring walls with lurid spray paint prints earn the right to be described as important art?

The demise of Spy Booth is indicative of the hysterical cult following that Banksy has cultivated since the emergence of his “work” on walls, bridges and buildings in Bristol in the early 1990s.

Banksy is a graffiti artist – an oxymoron if ever there was one. His “work” is confined mainly to the UK but recently his spray can has also defaced walls across Europe and in New York.

His popularity accelerates at the speed of sound, and his cult shows no signs of diminishing any time soon. His adherents will tell you that he is not only an artist but also a political activist whose views – unerringly anti-establishment – provide us with meaningful social and political commentary.

In the past two decades, Banksy has produced innumerate images that indiscriminately seek to protest against law and order. He has published a manifesto on his website, issued various self-published books and – perhaps the maddest in this list – created a theme park, Dismaland, in Weston-super-Mare.

Such were the dizzying heights of hysteria surrounding Dismaland that £5 tickets were re-sold for over £1,000 online. At the time, Banksy told UK newspaper The Sunday Times that Dismaland sought to represent “Disneyland run by Trotsky after a head trauma”.

While to you or me this may sound like some 21st century vision of hell on earth, some punters couldn’t get enough. Celebrity fans include actress Angelina Jolie and singer Christina Aguilera and Banksy’s works can sell for upwards of £200,000.

A recent offence was decorating the walls in Calais, France, with an apparently thought-provoking image of Apple founder Steve Jobs as an immigrant. Thanks, Banksy. As if the people of Calais, and the people in Calais, haven’t got enough to worry about, they are now confronted with graffiti disguised as insightful artistic demonstration.

In a ceaselessly tiresome display, Banksy refuses to reveal his identity. But maybe that is actually the only aspect of his character that displays good common sense. If I were him, I wouldn’t want anyone to know my true identity either. For if I were to dart around the streets of England with spray cans after dark, leaving the inner workings of my mind sprayed and splattered across buildings, and also to reveal my identity, I’m sure I’d be spending Christmas in the clink thanks to the Criminal Damage Act 1971 or courtesy of an ASBO. Before you could say ‘Spy Booth.’

Why are the rules different for him?