Banksy Suspected Over Spies Mural Near GCHQ
Residents of a street in Gloucestershire believe they may have had a visit from Banksy after a mural appeared on the side of a house.
The artwork in Cheltenham surrounds a BT telephone box and shows three men dressed as 1950s spies in trademark trenchcoats and trilby hats.
They are depicted carrying listening devices which they are pointing at the telephone box.
Residents said they saw a group of men packing away a large white tarpaulin at around 7.30am on Sunday, before driving off in a maintenance van.
The location of the mural appears to be deliberate - Cheltenham is the home to the headquarters of the Government's intelligence agency, GCHQ.
News of the new addition to the street, three miles away from GCHQ, has attracted a number of visitors, many of whom believe the graffiti bears the hallmarks of the elusive street artist.
Karen Smith, 48, said the figures appeared on the side of the house where she lives on Sunday morning.
"It's pretty good. It livens the street up a bit," the mother-of-five told the Gloucestershire Echo. "There have been a lot of people about today looking at it.
"My daughter, Sophie thinks it's Banksy, but I've been speaking to different people outside and some agree, some don't."
Banksy uses stencils and graffiti to make comments about society and this new one fits the pattern of his other works which have appeared all over the world since the 1990s.
He has yet to officially confirm the piece on his website but fans say it has the "narrative, style and execution" of his work.
The artwork follows the spying revelations by the National Security Agency's whistleblower Edward Snowden which have put US and UK intelligence agencies under the spotlight.
A spokesman for GCHQ said: "This is the first time we have ever been asked to comment on art.
"Although we are not qualified critics, we are as intrigued as the rest of the residents of Cheltenham about the appearance of the mysterious artwork.
"For those who are interested, our website gives a glimpse of what modern day intelligence operatives are really like, although some may be disappointed by the lack of trench coats and dark glasses."