Page last updated at 20:20 GMT, Sunday, 8 June 2008 21:20 UK

Man held over Harman roof protest


Protester Jolly Stanesby speaks from Harriet Harman's roof

A man has been arrested after a rooftop protest at the home of Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman.

Police said fathers' rights campaigner Mark Harris, from Devon, was held on suspicion of criminal damage, causing a public nuisance and other offences.

A second Fathers 4 Justice protester remains on the roof of Ms Harman's home with a banner reading: "A father is for life, not just conception."

Ms Harman has left the house in Herne Hill, south London.

The protesters had been on the roof since scaling the building, dressed in superhero-style costumes, early on Sunday morning.

Jolly Stanesby, also from Devon, who remains on the roof, told BBC News: "I was considering coming down but they've turned nasty and this is the trouble with dealing with the family courts all the time.

Harriet Harman speaking before she left her home

"Dads get criticised, criticised, criticised, and now I'm even more determined than ever to stay up here as long as possible."

Ms Harman, who is also Secretary of State for Equalities and Minister for Women, said the men had not requested a meeting, "so this is clearly just a demonstration".

"It's not fair to tie up the police resources and inconvenience my neighbours.

"The police have got more important work they could be doing so I'd like to thank them for their professionalism that they've exercised this morning."

She said she would not stay in the house while the demonstrators remained on the roof.

"We are going to move out and stay somewhere else. I don't think it's fair for police resources to be tied up outside my house by this demonstration."

Campaign 'resumed'

The campaigners, who are dressed as "Captain Conception" and "Cash Gordon", had said they intended to remain at the property until the former minister of justice read Mark Harris's book, "Family Court Hell".

Fathers 4 Justice founder Matt O'Connor said: "Harriet Harman and the government have refused all dialogue with F4J for the past two years.

"We are now resuming a full-scale campaign of direct action against the government, its ministers and the judiciary."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the government had carried out a public consultation on improving the openness of family courts.

This whole incident yet again underlines the ridiculous folly of the decision made by judges whose own home addresses are always protected from public knowledge
Julian Lewis, Conservative MP

"We will publish our response once we have fully considered the findings," he said.

"This is an important and complex area of policy about which people have strong views. We must ensure we get it right."

The protest, meanwhile, has raised concerns about the erosion of politicians' right to keep their addresses private, according to a Tory MP.

New Forest East MP Julian Lewis strongly criticised a High Court decision last month to allow details of MPs' second homes to be published.

He said: "The whole incident yet again underlines the ridiculous folly of the decision made by judges whose own home addresses are always protected from public knowledge."

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