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Last Updated: Monday, 24 September 2007, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Justice fathers 'handcuffed MP'
Margaret Hodge
Margaret Hodge was cut free from the handcuffs
Two fathers' rights protesters handcuffed former children's minister Margaret Hodge during a family law conference, a court has heard.

Jason Hatch, 35, of Cheltenham, and Jonathan Stanesby, 41, of Ivybridge, Devon, walked up to her during an event at The Lowry Hotel in Salford in 2004.

Manchester Crown Court was told the MP for Barking was trapped for 15 minutes and had to be freed with bolt cutters.

Both men deny a charge of false imprisonment.

The court was told that the men were members of the group Fathers 4 Justice, and wanted to gain publicity for their cause.

Mr Stanesby told the minister she was being "arrested" for child abuse, before cuffing her left wrist to his, the court heard.

Conference session

Opening the case for the prosecution, Alan Wolstenholme said Mr Hatch had intended to handcuff himself to Mrs Hodge's other arm, but she struggled free with the help of her assistant private secretary.

Mr Hatch was then grabbed by a security guard but managed to get free and leave the conference at the Lowry Hotel, dropping his handcuffs on the way, the court was told.

As they got to within 5ft or so of Margaret Hodge they rushed towards her
Alan Wolstenholme, prosecuting

Mrs Hodge had spoken at the conference, which was called Battle Of The Sexes, and taken part in a question and answer session afterwards.

About 10 minutes into the session, she noticed two men approaching her from the left of the platform.

Mr Wolstenholme said: "As they got to within 5ft or so of Margaret Hodge they rushed towards her.

"One of the two men took hold of her right arm and the other took her left arm.

"As Stanesby grabbed the minister of state's left arm and he said the following: 'Margaret Hodge, I'm arresting you for child abuse."'

Mrs Hodge's assistant private secretary, Natalie Perrera, struggled with Mr Hatch and managed to release the minister's right arm.

At this time Mr Stanesby attached his arm to her left wrist using handcuffs, the court heard.

The case continues.

Two in court over handcuffed MP
05 Feb 07 |  Manchester

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