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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Man admits Ruth Kelly egg attack
Ruth Kelly is hit by an egg
Ruth Kelly was due to give evidence at another trial
A fathers' rights campaigner has admitted smashing an egg over the head of Cabinet Minister Ruth Kelly outside a Greater Manchester court.

Michael Downes, 44, attacked the then Education Secretary as she left Salford Magistrates' Court on 6 February.

Ms Kelly was at Trafford Magistrates' Court on Tuesday to give evidence but was not required in the stand.

Downes, of Foxfield Road, Wythenshawe, Manchester, pleaded guilty to one charge of common assault by beating.

Magistrates are considering if an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (Asbo) should be imposed on the painter and decorator after hearing evidence that he is a serial "egger".

Ms Kelly was ushered into a side entrance at the court at the hearing to avoid a handful of Downes' supporters wearing "Real Fathers for Justice" T-shirts.

John Perris, prosecuting, showed magistrates a police photo of two intact eggs, seized as evidence from the defendant after the attack.

It was clear this was a pre-planned incident
John Perris, prosecuting

Mr Perris said Ms Kelly was attending Salford Magistrates' Court in relation to a previous Fathers for Justice incident where one protester had tried to handcuff himself to her.

As she left the court Mr Downes appeared from a side street with his eggs.

"The male approached the secretary of state and struck her on top of the head with an egg and a number of eggs were thrown at the secretary.

"The defendant was detained at the scene.

"It was clear this was a pre-planned incident, he had gone along with the eggs for this purpose."

Glued locks

The court heard Mr Downes had a string of previous convictions relating to his involvement in campaigning for fathers' rights.

In May last year he received a conditional discharge after throwing an egg at Prime Minister Tony Blair's car and shouting abuse as Mr Blair attended an election rally in Oldham.

He was fined 500 after climbing on top of Manchester Crown Court dressed as Batman, climbing a gantry over the M4 in Cardiff and setting fireworks off outside the Elstree Big Brother house.

He has also climbed Manchester's Big Wheel dressed as Santa and last month was convicted of criminal damage after super-gluing doors and locks at Trafford Town Hall, Greater Manchester.

Nicola Hall, defending, said Downes's attack was a "spur of the moment" decision.

She said the father of three grown-up children underwent a "bitter and extremely unpleasant" custody battle with his former wife.

He began campaigning for fathers' rights four years ago and is now reunited with his three children.

Downes was bailed as magistrates adjourned sentencing until 15 August for reports. But he was warned he could face a custodial sentence.

Egg thrown at Kelly outside court
06 Feb 06 |  Manchester
Men 'tried to handcuff' minister
27 Apr 05 |  England

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