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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Kelly egg thrower avoids prison
Ruth Kelly is hit by an egg
Ruth Kelly was due to give evidence at another trial
A fathers' rights campaigner who smashed an egg on the head of Cabinet Minister Ruth Kelly has been given a community punishment order.

Michael Downes, 44, had been warned he could face a custodial sentence for attacking the then education secretary outside Salford Magistrates' Court.

He admitted common assault by beating and was handed the order by Trafford magistrates on Tuesday.

Mr Downes, from Manchester, said: "I think common sense has prevailed."

The father-of-three, of Foxfield Road, Wythenshawe, was also given a five-year Anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) and ordered to pay Miss Kelly 75 compensation and 500 court costs.

He will now be supervised in the community for two years and must do 190 hours unpaid work.

John Perris, prosecuting, said Miss Kelly was left shocked and with a "sensitive scalp" after the attack on 6 February.

Michael Downes
I am proud of what I have done
Michael Downes

Magistrates heard how Downes had previously thrown eggs at Tony Blair's car and had scaled public buildings dressed as Santa Claus and Batman during fathers' rights protests.

Aoife Ryan, mitigating, said: "Mr Downes has told his probation officer he has no more intention of direct involvement in political action."

She added, he would now "move away from the forefront of this organisation".

Downes emerged from court and was flanked by about 30 supporters and other campaigners.

Ripping up his Asbo, Downes said: "I think it stands for A Silly Bloody Order.

"I am proud of what I have done. I think we need to be a bit more controversial, more confrontational.

"I will still be fighting for the rights of fathers."

The Asbo order, which runs until 2011, prohibits him from entering or remaining in a public building for which members of the public do not have permission.

It also bans him from climbing any structures more than 1m in height without prior permission or through his work and placing banners or posters or any signs on public structures.


SEE ALSO
Man admits Ruth Kelly egg attack
25 Jul 06 |  Manchester
Egg thrown at Kelly outside court
06 Feb 06 |  Manchester

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