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Last Updated: Friday, 14 April 2006, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Widdecombe urges Abbey pair down
Dummy and protesters
The protesters climbed about 40ft up the abbey
Two fathers' rights campaigners who scaled Westminster Abbey in an Easter protest have been persuaded to climb down by Ann Widdecombe MP.

Concerned that Good Friday services would have to be held outside, she urged the members of Real Fathers for Justice to end their 30-hour protest.

Once on the ground, both men were arrested for aggravated trespass.

Real Fathers for Justice is a splinter group of the high profile Fathers 4 Justice, which disbanded in January.

Simon Anderton, 47, and Paul Addison, 39, from the North East, had carried a dummy on a mock crucifix with them, claiming it symbolised fathers being "crucified" by the courts over access to their children.

Police officers had been trying to persuade the fathers to come down from the start , but Ms Widdecombe said it took her just 20 minutes.

We had a bit of a discussion and I shall be reiterating my views on the plight of fathers
Ann Widdecombe MP

"I have gone up to them and said I am one of your greatest supporters," she told BBC London News.

"What you are actually going to do is force a lot of elderly people to stand out on the green because we can't get into the abbey while you are there, so could you please consider coming down.

"We had a bit of a discussion and I shall be reiterating my views on the plight of fathers.

"I don't condone the method they are using but I am very glad I persuaded them to come down because I too am offended by their cross."

The men spent the night 40ft up on a balcony without sleeping bags or supplies after the police took them.

They had planned to dress as Romans for a crucifixion stunt on Good Friday but police also seized their costumes, their spokesman said.

The original Fathers 4 Justice group disbanded after three years of audacious stunts to highlight the cause of men denied access to their children.


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