LONDON — London kicked off its preparations for the 2012 Olympics amid controversy Sunday as its tourism body came under fire for featuring a painting of a murderer in a promotional film screened in Beijing.
Marcus Harvey’s portrait of Myra Hindley, who was sentenced to life imprisonment along with her lover for killing four children between 1963 and 1964, was one of several works of art shown in a three-minute video that also featured well-known London landmarks.
The film was attacked by Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s office, with a spokesman describing the use of the painting composed of children’s handprints as being “in extremely poor taste and it should not have been used to promote London.”
Brown was himself in Beijing at London House, where the video was being shown as part of efforts to showcase London as the Olympic Games were officially handed over earlier on Sunday.
“This is a general three minute video of London in which an artwork by Marcus Harvey very fleetingly appears,” Visit London, the capital’s tourism body, said in a statement.
“The video is not for general public use and has been used many times over the last few years to show to the tourism trade.
“There has never been a complaint made about the video up until this point.
“However, if any offence has been caused, we will withdraw it from use with immediate effect.”
The painting of Hindley, who died in 2002, was vandalised with ink and eggs when it went on display at the Royal Academy in London in 1997.