Haringey Borough Council has defended claims it “did nothing” to protect a Banksy mural which vanished from a wall in Wood Green earlier this month.

Property developers Robert Davies and Les Gilbert, who own the freehold of Poundland store previously decorated with the stencilled art work, told the Evening Standard that Haringey Borough Council did not help to protect the piece "in any way”.

However, the council said it would welcome the chance the speak to the owners of the property to discuss how the mural can be brought back to the borough for the community to enjoy.

Councillor Alan Strickland is leading the campaign to return the much-loved piece to Haringey.

A statement from the council said: “We are keen to explore all possible ways to bring back Banksy to Haringey, and would welcome open discussions with the property owners, including a greater understanding of how the mural came to be removed in the first place.”

Although it is up to the council to remove offensive graffiti within 24 hours, the council told the Haringey Independent it has no involvement with graffiti on private property, and it is a matter for the owners to deal with.

The picture, called Slave Labour, disappeared from the Poundland wall in Whymark Avenue earlier this month to resurface on an American auction site with a starting price of more than £260,000.

The art work, which was cut from the wall, was withdrawn from the auction on Saturday evening.

The piece, commenting on child labour and globalisation, appeared in May last year before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and had been covered by a plastic sheet to protect it from damage.

Since its disappearance, new graffiti has appeared in the wall by artists seeking to comment on the removal and aborted sale.