Page last updated at 14:11 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 15:11 UK

Fathers' rights activist 'elated'

Jonathan Stanesby
The father scaled London's High Court as part of his campaign

A fathers' rights activist who handcuffed himself to a government minister during an eight-year campaign has won equal access to his daughter.

Fathers 4 Justice campaigner Jonathan Stanesby, of south Devon, said he was "absolutely elated" now to have his daughter living with him half the time.

But he said "direct action" by fathers would continue if there was no "radical change" improving their rights.

He handcuffed himself to children's minister Margaret Hodge in 2004.

Mr Stanesby's daughter now spends alternate weeks with her mother and him, with holiday periods also divided equally.

There seems to be a set pattern where a father sees their child alternate weekends - it's almost like a break for the other parent
Jonathan Stanesby

"I'm absolutely elated, as you can probably imagine. It just seems like a huge weight has just come off my shoulders," he told BBC Radio 5 live's Victoria Derbyshire show.

But he added that his eight-year fight had been a "devastating experience".

Over the handcuffing stunt at a conference in Salford, Greater Manchester, he was cleared at trial of false imprisonment.

Jail term

But he was later found guilty of causing distress and alarm and jailed for two months, over a rooftop demonstration at the home of deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman.

His protests followed ministers' refusal to discuss the issue of fathers' rights with the campaign group, Mr Stanesby said.

"It's quite clear that radical change is needed," he said.

"In this country there seems to be a set pattern where a father sees their child alternate weekends - it's almost like a break for the other parent.

"The non-resident parent in this country is set up to be the walking wallet."

The government firmly believes that children should not be denied meaningful contact with their other parent, where this is safe
Ministry of Justice

Mr Stanesby added: "Obviously I have got now a daughter to concentrate on.

"I want to see change - who knows what's around the corner.

"Direct action obviously has to continue if no change is moving forward."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the well-being of children was "at the heart of the family justice system".

"Where contact cases do come to court, the child's welfare is always the paramount consideration," he said.

"Clearly in some circumstances, such as where there is poor parenting or even abuse, contact can be very damaging.

"The government firmly believes that children should not be denied meaningful contact with their other parent, where this is safe."



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SEE ALSO
Father jailed for rooftop protest
12 Nov 08 |  London
Profile: Fathers 4 Justice
22 Apr 08 |  UK
Two cleared in handcuffed MP case
03 Oct 07 |  England
MPs withdraw fathers group invite
24 Nov 04 |  UK Politics

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