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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 17:14 GMT
'Santas' end parliament protest
Holyrood protest
A police officer talks to the two men on the parliament
Two men have been arrested and charged following a rooftop protest at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The men, aged 49 and 50, dressed up as Santa Claus to stage a demonstration on behalf of Fathers 4 Justice.

Their protest took place ahead of the campaign group's first public meeting north of the border.

The men climbed onto the bamboo-style canopy over the public entrance at 0700 GMT and came down one at a time on a hydraulic platform shortly before 1100.

The duo were taken to a nearby police station and charged with breach of the peace before being released.

A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal and the men are expected to appear in court at a later date.

Earlier, a senior officer was lifted up on the platform in an attempt to persuade the men to come down.

We hope the Scottish Parliament will take heed, unlike the Westminster Parliament which seems to be deaf to what we are saying
Matt O'Connor
Fathers 4 Justice
They were perched on the canopy about 50ft from the ground where they unfurled a banner declaring: "Welcome to Fathers 4 Justice country."

The protest had no effect on the day-to-day functioning of the parliament and the public entrance remained open.

Fathers 4 Justice describes itself as a "civil rights movement campaigning for a child's right to see both parents and grandparents".

It says it has 12,000 members across the UK and but wants to heighten its profile in Scotland, where there are said to be about 400 members.

Prior to the stunt at Holyrood, the group warned that landmarks such as the parliament and the Forth Bridges could be targeted.

Fathers 4 Justice says it organised a meeting in Stirling on Tuesday in response to many calls for help.

Holyrood protest
The men were perched on the structure above the entrance
Founder Matt O'Connor said: "It's Saint Andrew's Day and we have a lot of activists in Scotland ready to start action from this point onwards.

"We want to send a message to the Scottish Parliament in the same way we sent a message to the Westminster Parliament.

"We are no longer prepared to tolerate the separation of children from their parents.

"That's what this campaign is about - giving children the right to see both parents.

"We hope the Scottish Parliament will take heed, unlike the Westminster Parliament which seems to be deaf to what we are saying."

Security report

The head official of the Scottish Parliament said he would be requesting a full security report into the incident.

At a meeting of the parliament's finance committee, chief executive Paul Grice heard concerns that the protest would give rise to copy-cat incidents.

Labour MSP Elaine Murray said she was worried children may try to climb the building.

Mr Grice responded: "We were very mindful in terms of the design of the entrances and exits of the building with regard to health and safety issues.

"We want to make the building open to visitors, but clearly if it transpires there was anything we could do which didn't compromise the openness of the building then I would take action.

"They (Fathers for Justice) have managed to climb much harder buildings than this."

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