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Banksy's 'war of the walls'

Artist complains of inaccuracies in programme about his feud with the underground graffiti hero King Robbo

Graffiti artist Banksy is demanding an investigation into a television documentary about a "battle of spray cans" between him and underground graffiti hero King Robbo. Banksy says it implies that he was responsible for putting his rival in a coma.

The film focused on the extreme rivalry between Banksy, known for his stencil-based images, and the London-based Robbo, famed for his old-school style. Banksy is outraged by what he calls inaccuracies and distortions in "a wilful and malicious attempt by the film-makers to damage [his] credibility and reputation". The artist is so disturbed by his portrayal in Channel 4's Graffiti Wars, shown last month, that he has resorted to more conventional protests – a formal letter of complaint to the broadcaster.

In the programme, Robbo claimed to have slapped Banksy at their first meeting for treating him like "a nobody". Later Banksy painted over the "retired" Robbo's last surviving graffiti along the Regent's canal in London dating from his 1985 heyday. "What started off as tit-for-tat one-upmanship … degenerated into a wider battle of vitriol," the narrator told viewers, as footage showing the defacing of each other's work was screened.

Just after Robbo was shown setting out into the night to target another Banksy work, the film ended, reporting: "Robbo would never get his chance to retaliate against Banksy. Just days after this filming took place, he was found unconscious in the street with life-threatening head injuries and he's been in a coma ever since."

In a statement Banksy said : "Graffiti Wars contained some inaccuracies that I've asked to be investigated and some facts that need to be corrected. They alleged I painted over a piece by Robbo and led viewers to believe I had something to do with him being in a coma. I wish Robbo a full and speedy recovery."

Some claim Robbo was injured in an accident. A source close to Banksy said: "He fell down stairs and hit his head, which was nothing to do with Banksy. There was no police case."

Banksy admits painting over Robbo's Regent's Canal graffiti by stencilling a painter-decorator wallpapering over it, but he is angered by the programme's allegation it was "an act deemed so hostile it shocked the graffiti world".

Banksy argues that Robbo's 25-year-old canal graffiti was in such a poor state his signature was not even legible, and says the programme makers were "biased" in using a photograph of Robbo's work in its pristine state immediately before showing Banksy's defacement of it, only later showing the deteriorated Robbo original. He also criticises the programme's filming of a reception for Robbo's first gallery exhibition, focusing on a couple who refused to be interviewed, wrongly identifying them as "two members of Team Banksy … a business associate and Banksy's PR agent", implying they were scouting the opposition. Banksy's official PR agent, Jo Brooks, said she had no idea who the couple were and denied that they were associated with Banksy.

Channel 4 has edited the couple from its website version and denies the other allegations: "Graffiti Wars in no way suggests that Banksy was responsible for the injuries sustained by King Robbo … The documentary clearly states that Banksy did not realise he was painting over Robbo's work and includes a picture of the deteriorated work." © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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