A new Banksy mural in Birmingham has been covered in protective perspex after someone painted red noses onto it over night.

The red pain was added to the reindeer, which are designed to look as if they are pulling a bench along like Santa's sleigh in a work that comments on homelessness.

The artwork, in Vyse Street, beside Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter station, has now been covered with a sheet of perspex by Network Rail.

David Golding, interim route managing director for Network Rail's Central route, said: "As a railway family, our hearts go out to the homeless, especially at this time of year.

"Banksy's wall art has captured their plight so well. It's right we protect it so everyone can see it."

Yesterday, the secretive street artist posted a video to Instagram depicting a rough sleeper lying down on the bench.

He wrote: "God bless Birmingham. In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter - without him ever asking for anything."

Crowds have since been gathering to view the work themselves, including one member of the public who made their own addition with some red paint.

That led Network Rail to take what it described as "the unusual step of protecting a piece of graffiti on its property".

Mr Golding added: "We discourage any graffiti and we spend a lot of time removing it from around the network ... but it's not every day we get a bona fide Banksy."

A spokesman for Banksy confirmed the red noses had not been added by the artist. 

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