A SOUTHAMPTON MP has hit out at a Southampton student union leader who called for a WWI mural to be removed.

Emily Dawes, president of Southampton University's student union, said: "Mark my words – we're taking down the mural of white men in the uni senate room, even if I have to paint over it myself."

The mural, which was painted in 1916, depicts an academic procession and a soldier being presented with a degree, and was designed as a memorial to students who served in the First World War.

Ms Dawes' comments sparked outrage and Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen, said: "It is disappointing, especially as we approach the centenary of the Armistice, that the president of the student’s union feels that it is acceptable to disregard the heroic sacrifice of soldiers who sought to defend the very freedoms, including free speech, which Miss Dawes has chosen to exercise.

"However, with freedom comes responsibility and considering the president of the SU holds a position of authority she has clearly overstepped the mark.

"I hope she will reflect on what she has said and realise it has been conducted in poor taste.

"Those who know the history of our island are fully aware and appreciate the involvement of black and Asian soldiers against tyranny."