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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 16:21 GMT
MPs withdraw fathers group invite
Father 4 Justice campaigner Jolly Stanesby dressed as Robin
Mr Stanesby dressed as Robin, during a protest in October 2003.
A fathers group has been told it is no longer invited to give evidence to a Common inquiry after one of its members handcuffed themselves to a minister.

Children's Minister Margaret Hodge was the subject of the stunt last Friday as she attended a family law conference.

Constitutional affairs committee chairman Alan Beith has criticised Father 4 Justice branding their conduct "completely unacceptable".

This week the same group were behind another stunt at Buckingham Palace.

'Direct assault'

On that occasion a protester chained himself to a lamp above the gates at the palace.

Mr Beith - whose committee is looking at the effectiveness of the family court system - said the handcuffing incident involved "a direct assault on someone" and it disrupted "other people's freedom of speech".

"On 17 November I extended an invitation to Fathers 4 Justice to give oral evidence to the committee," he said.

"Friday's incident means that I have no choice but to withdraw that invitation.

"We have already accepted evidence from Fathers 4 Justice and shall continue to be ready to accept further written evidence from them, since they claim to represent a large number of people."

Borrowed cuffs

The group would also be able to comment in writing on any oral evidence from other witnesses, he added.

Jolly Stanesby, 39, of Devon, stormed the stage at a family law conference in Salford, Greater Manchester. He was subsequently arrested then released on police bail.

The registered childminder said the stunt was the only way to get the group's message across.

Mr Stanesby, whose real name is Jonathan, used borrowed handcuffs to attach himself to the minister as she spoke at the conference.

Arrested

The pair were cuffed together for 40 minutes before bolt cutters were used to separate them and he was arrested.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said Mrs Hodge, Labour MP for Barking, was unharmed.

The Buckingham Palace stunt on Tuesday involved a protester dressed as Santa - he was subsequently arrested by police.

The activist, named by the group as Dave Pyke, 49, was chained to the lamp for almost two hours before police brought him down.





SEE ALSO:
Palace protest may prompt new law
14 Oct 04 |  Politics
Margaret Hodge
21 Oct 02 |  Politics


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