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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
Do publicity stunts put security at risk?
Jason Hatch, Fathers 4 Justice protestor, on Buckingham Palace
A Fathers 4 Justice campaigner dressed as Batman scaled Buckingham Palace and staged a five-hour protest on Monday.

It is the latest in a series of protests which have seen members of the fathers' rights group demonstrating on cranes, key roads, bridges and public buildings.

Home Secretary Mr Blunkett has since set up an urgent review of security measures. He said that, although the speed of the protestor getting access to the palace was "of concern", the police would have shot him if he had been judged a terror risk.

When David Chick, another protestor backed by the group, climbed a crane in London, the extra policing was said to have cost 10,000 a day.

Are publicity stunts putting security at risk? Have Fathers 4 Justice gone too far, or is this the only way they can get their message across?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This topic was suggested by Alan Howard, UK:
Do you think the dads have a valid point and demonstrate because no one is taking any notice of them?
This topic was suggested by Mike Godfrey, Denia, Spain:
What's gone wrong with the family court system?

I appreciate why these men feel driven to such extreme actions to highlight their case. However I would be interested to know how their children feel about it. Has anyone bothered to ask the children if they want to see their fathers? As a child who was reluctantly forced to see a parent who demanded access, I'd prefer to hear the children's view for a change.
VP, Bradford, UK

Whether you look at the rights or the wrongs of the situation, and the fact it was very easy to get through security - which in today's "terror alert" climate was quite shocking - he succeeded with his ultimate aim. You're all talking about him. Maybe now the courts will look at him and his campaign too.
Annabelle, UK

Fathers 4 Justice seem to be doing quite well recently. Not only getting into the Palace grounds, but by also throwing a harmless substance at the Prime Minister. Perhaps the various security forces would do better by employing these guys as they seem to find these gaps in security easier than those that get paid!
Tracey, Bristol, UK

Pulling stunts like this puts more strain on the security services
Darren Drummond, Whitburn West Lothian
Although I agree with the fathers 4 justice cause, I believe that by pulling stunts like this puts more strain on the security services. What would happen if there was a terrorist attack at the same time. Think about that one protestors
Darren Drummond, Whitburn West Lothian

At least they get their message across peacefully, unlike terrorists. Don't be so hard on them they are standing up for what they believe in and highlighting a system that they and many others including myself think is unfair.
Roger , Lancs

That protest by "Fathers4Justice" can only be regarded as a beneficial activity. Why? Well, I think there are three substantial reasons: firstly the attack was utterly benign, it endangered nobody. Secondly it has forced the Government into an urgent review of security measures to protect our leaders. Thirdly, and perhaps more importantly, it has highlighted the plight of this desperate group of people who, until now, have been largely ignored by the very institutions that should take action on their behalf. It is imperative that the public understand that these are not violent, unruly, anarchic men, hell-bent on causing mayhem wherever and whenever they can. On the contrary, these men have exhausted every other legitimate avenue. We should all feel rather humbled by their courage.
Alan Colquhoun, Livingston, Scotland

As someone who was deserted by my father, I get a bit fed up with being told how hard done by they are.
Sally, Sheffield, England

Good on you, Batman, I don't know very much about your fathers' rights cause, but you have done us a all service in highlighting our pathetic security.
John, Portsmouth, UK

I agree with what these men are saying but not the way in which they are saying it. They should have been shot for risking the UK Royal Family.
Ben, Cardiff, UK

Security is put at risk, maybe, but what are they going to charge them with? If they'd have thought about it, the batmobile could have been parked close enough for a getaway!
Alfred Oresaba, UK

As a solicitor I agree that the current family law system has to find a solution to mothers who flout Court Orders. However I think that the children of these Fathers 4 Justice must cringe when they see them performing such childish pranks.
Andrew G, Wales

These fathers are doing this out of desperation. Only someone who has been denied access to their children can know the pains fathers go through.
Steve Villiers, London

Too many times matters such as this are swept aside
Cyril Preece, Tamworth, UK
Without peaceful, public protests like this, many, many injustices just would not be brought to the public domain. Too many times matters such as this are swept aside both by the government - not a real vote winner and the press - Sven Goran Erickson's sex life is far more important. So yes, we do unfortunately need public protest in order to be heard. Isn't it marvellous how we always seem to be heard at election time with promises of better things to come?
Cyril Preece, Tamworth, UK

Bringing down the King's horse worked for the suffragettes but one wonders what the public reaction would have been if he had been deemed a "security risk" by a marksman or guard and shot dead on site because I am sure they would have shot to kill.
Benjamin Raine, Essex, UK

Hopefully there will be many more stunts like this that will make the Government change family law. These men have been granted permission by the courts to see their children (why should they need to) and still they are denied access by the mothers. What are they supposed to do just go home and forget about their kids. Well done to them for exposing the sexism in this country.
Lee, Castleford

Why all the fuss? The royal family live there, they have enough money, let them arrange their own security.
Gregor Davis, Glasgow, Scotland

So what's the difference between a hooded man running towards a potential terrorist target shouting "fathers for justice" and a suicide bomber doing exactly the same? With hindsight, it was obviously the correct decision not to shoot this man dead. But what happens the next time?
Graeme, Reading, UK

This is no different than someone ringing the police with a hoax bomb warning
Colin, UK
I don't think that this latest stunt has identified any security loopholes at all. The protestor only reached his perch adjacent to the palace balcony because the police having intercepted his colleague, identified that he pose no threat at all. That said the stunt does have some important implications - cost of policing which ultimately has to be borne by taxpayers, and the diversion of police resources away from important duties at a time of increased terrorist threat. For me this is no different than someone ringing the police with a hoax bomb warning. I hope the courts treat Mr Hatch accordingly.
Colin, UK

If the father refuses to pay maintained he gets punished. If the mother refuses access nothing happens. This has been going on for years and yet no-one starts to listen until these publicity stunts started. Something needs to be done now otherwise children will grow up without knowing their fathers.
Caron, England

By saying that Fathers 4 Justice is disgraceful, you are saying that people can't protest and have their own say. Why shouldn't they be able to tell the world about themselves? Isn't it a human right that we should all be able to say what we want to say? They have highlighted a major security risk, and I don't think the UK would have liked it if that was a terrorist blowing up the palace. Instead of ignoring their case, we should listen to them - put yourself in their position.
Natalie, Bristol, England

Is the so-called terror threat against us as real as the government claim or is it merely hyped by the government
There obviously is no real security if stunts like this can be pulled with such ease. Which leads us to the question: is the so-called "terror threat" against us as real as the government claim or is it merely hyped by the government in order to push their pro-war and anti-civil-liberty agenda? I applaud Fathers 4 Justice for their humorous approach to protest and showing us that if the so-called "terror threat" was actually real then there's no way on earth they would be able to do such acts. I look forward to seeing more protests of this nature in the future.

I am very happily married (30 years) with three wonderful (adult) children. I can't begin to imagine the heartache these fathers must be going though when denied access to their own children. Whilst I agree their method of protest is far too extreme, it does make you wonder the depth of their despair. Perhaps if the authorities bothered to listen to their case such protests would not be necessary. Think of yourself being denied access to YOUR children before you condemn them outright.
Mike, Gravesend, UK

I'm not surprised the Mothers want to keep the kids away from these fathers. I wouldn't want any children of mine anywhere near them either.
Linda, Portsmouth, England

The courts should consider custodial sentences
James D , Birmingham, UK
The behaviour of Fathers 4 Justice is disgraceful. They obviously do not care about the disruption they cause when they pull these stunts. The courts should consider custodial sentences.
James D , Birmingham, UK

Far from putting security at risk, these stunts expose security holes and help us fix the problem. I'd rather have a benign faux-Batman scaling the palace than a real Bin Laden.
Russ, London, UK

How about setting an urgent review of the issues raised by the protestor, namely the fact that divorced fathers get treated very poorly in divorce cases where kids are involved, Mr Blunkett?
Pete, Stoke, UK

They are getting two messages across at once, the problem of security and their own message. What's wrong about that?
Al, UK

I also think that stunts like this are what makes the British special
Rob Smith, London, UK
While it appears Palace security is woeful, I think the police made the right call here and used their heads to recognise there was no security threat in this instance. And I also think that stunts like this are what makes the British special! Think how dull life would be if people were too scared to protest or speak their mind?
Rob Smith, London, UK

Unbelievable ! Push one of those big inflatable mattresses underneath the wall on the ground and push the idiot off onto it. Clear the matter up in a moment. Why we had to watch hours of him making his protest I do not know. It really does make us a laughing stock ! Fathers 4 Justice have an important message. I just wished they'd try and do it in a more orthodox way.
Paul, UK

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05 Nov 03  |  Magazine


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