User:Its a doozy
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Real Fathers for Justice (or RFFJ) began as a fathers’ rights organisation in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom branch was temporarily disbanded in January 2006, following allegations of a plot by members to kidnap the son of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. Four months later, in May 2006, the group reformed and protested during the live broadcast of the BBC lottery show "The National Lottery: Jet Set".
The Real Fathers For Justice were founded in the UK by regional co-ordinator and members of Fathers 4 Justice (F4J) following a vote of no confidence in the F4J founder Matt O'Connor.
F4J's stated aim is to champion the cause of equal parenting, family law reform and equal contact for divorced parents with children. It is well-known for its campaigning techniques of dramatic protest stunts, usually dressed as comic book superheroes and frequently scaling public buildings, bridges and monuments.
Stunts have included supporters storming courts dressed in Father Christmas outfits, clapping the Government's ‘Children’s Minister’ in handcuffs, and most notably group member Jason Hatch climbing onto Buckingham Palace dressed as Batman. They have also protested by handcuffing two government ministers.
On 19 February 2009 Jamil Jabr, president of F4J and Families 4 Justice USA, resigned. F4J directors unanimously voted long-time member and activist Donald Tenn to the position of President and Secretary.
The Greek Professor Nicolas Spitalas (http://spitalas.blogspot.com) formed the F4J in Greece (Thessaloniki-http://www.sos-sygapa.eu) who between 2004 and 2009 provoked many activities and demonstrations in Greece.
This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (December 2009)
On 17 December 2002, O'Connor and a small group of supporters staged their first protest by storming the Lord Chancellor's Office dressed as Father Christmas. In January 2003, O'Connor officially founded Fathers 4 Justice. The group targeted the homes of family court judges and family lawyers' homes and offices with traditional protests.
On 21 October 2003, campaigners Eddie Gorecki and Jonathan "Jolly" Stanesby scaled the Royal Courts of Justice, dressed respectively as Batman and Robin. The following day, the group’s members rallied through London around a military tank in solidarity with Goreckwi and Stanesby.
Nine days later, group member David Chick scaled a 120 feet (37 m) crane near Tower Bridge, London dressed as Spider-Man. The Metropolitan Police set up a cordon around the area that disrupted traffic through some of East London for several days. Chick was subsequently cleared and published a ghost-written autobiography in February 2006.
On the morning of 22 December 2003, four campaigners - Eddie Gorecki, Jolly Stanesby, Michael Sadeh and Steve Battlershill - dressed as Father Christmas and climbed on top of Tower Bridge. They hung up a banner calling for the resignation of then Minister for Children Margaret Hodge, who they held responsible for perceived inequalities in family law. The four were charged with conspiracy, but the charge was dropped at the start of the trial a year later.
On 19 May 2004, a major alert was caused when two members of the group threw purple flour bombs at Tony Blair during Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons. Following the House of Commons incident The Times wrote that the group "has succeeded in becoming the most prominent guerrilla pressure group in Britain ... within eighteen months of its founding."
Protests of a similar nature occurred outside the UK; a protest by a member dressed as Robin the Boy Wonder was held for twelve hours on the Pattullo Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. On 6 May 2005 the group made headlines again after a member dressed as Superman climbed up scaffolding in Old City Hall in Toronto, Ontario to unfurl a banner.
In November 2005, the group received negative publicity when the prime-time ITV programme Tonight With Trevor McDonald appeared to expose some of its members as violent and obnoxious in their behaviour. However, counter-claims have been made that these were never members in the first place and that the programme gave no right to reply..
Some members were expelled but the organisation defended its position and attacked the documentary. On 23 November 2005, Fathers 4 Justice ended its truce with CAFCASS and the Child Support Agency, calling for a public inquiry into family law.
During January 2006 the British newspaper The Sun published a story in which it claimed fringe F4J members planned to kidnap Leo Blair, the young son of former Prime Minister Tony Blair 'for a few hours as a symbolic gesture'. The police said they were not aware of such a plan, but added it had probably never progressed beyond the "chattering stage". Downing Street refused to confirm or deny the existence of a plot as it does not comment on matters concerning the Prime Minister's children.
Fathers 4 Justice founder Matt O'Connor condemned the alleged plot and threatened to shut down the group because of it. Within days, Fathers 4 Justice had been disbanded.
On 20 May 2006, Fathers 4 Justice protested during the showing of the BBC lottery show "The National Lottery: Jet Set". The show was taken off-air for several minutes after six Fathers 4 Justice protesters ran from the audience onto the stage displaying posters. The protesters were soon removed from the studio and the lottery draws were hurriedly finished to meet programming schedules. A group spokesman stated afterwards that the incident marked a "dramatic return" of Fathers 4 Justice.
There was no widely publicised further action until that November, when Jonathan Stanesby climbed onto the roof of family court Judge David Tyzack's home dressed as Santa Claus. Stanesby claimed the judge was holding a shotgun, but Judge Tyzack said he had taken the gun out thinking the noise on the roof was a bird. Stanesby told reporters he was still restricted to seeing his daughter one weekend every two weeks.
On 10 December 2006, F4J USA staged a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party, titled the 'Boston "Custo-Tea" Party'. It was a protest at perceived corruption in the family court system, in which they claimed lawyers provoked custody battles between parents for profit.
In July 2007 F4J member and barrister Michael Cox was jailed for refusing to pay money he owed to the Child Support Agency. Cox told a hearing in Southampton he refused to pay on principle, as he had joint custody of his children, and his former wife wrote to the court in support of him.
On 17 August 2007 two members of F4J UK (Mike Downes and Jolly Stanesby) in conjunction with two members of F4J US (Donald Tenn and Bob Dickerson) participated in the first ever United States F4J demonstration. Jolly Stanesby and Mike Downes dressed as Batman and Captain America scaled the Lincoln Memorial and draped a banner promoting Fathers Rights across Lincoln's chest.
During 2008, key F4J members began protests under the banner of 'New Fathers for Justice', as founder O'Connor ran in the London mayoral elections for the Liberal Democrats. He remained associated with the group only as figurehead and founder.
On 8 June 2008, two fathers from Fathers for Justice UK climbed onto the roof of Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman's house wearing superhero-style costumes dubbed "Captain Conception" and "Cash Gordon". One of the pair, Mark Harris, said he wanted fathers to have the same right as their mothers' new partners. He also said they would not come down unless Harman read his book, "Family Court Hell".. Mr. Harris later received a conditional discharge while his colleague Jolly Stanesby was jailed for two months.
In the same month, Bristol Family Court was evacuated after a protest by around 30 F4J supporters )
On 9 July 2008, another set of fathers, this time in Spider-Man and Batman outfits, scaled Harman's roof and draped a banner emblazoned "Stop The War On Dads". Nigel Ace, the Spider-Man character, called for legal reforms through a loudhailer on the roof. Harman claimed the group had never sought democratic dialogue with her, but O'Connor claimed he had been ignored after trying to get in touch through his MP Mark Oaten.
In August 2008, F4J member Tim Line dressed as Batman and climbed onto the roof of family court Judge Matthew Thorpe in Devizes, Wilts. The protest lasted 36 hours. A month later, Fathers 4 Justice founder Matt O'Connor gave an interview with the Independent newspaper appealing for women to join and support the group.
That same month, the gay community professed outrage after New F4J lobbied Dawn Primarolo MP, an ardent supporter of gay adoption, with a banner reading "Kids need real Dads, not Dawn's lesbo dads". Pink News carried a quote from an un-named protester saying gay people should not adopt children.
On 27 September 2008, two members of F4J US, Donald Tenn dressed as Spider-Man and Paul Fisher dressed as Superman scaled a 200' crane in Columbus, Ohio. Tenn and Fisher suspended a banner from the crane that said, "Stop the war on Fatherhood, Fathers 4 Justice". On 30 September after a 3 day protest Fisher climbed down and surrendered to waiting police. On September 31 after a 4 day protest Tenn climbed down and surrendered. Both men were charged with felony vandalism which was later reduced to misdemeanor charges.
On 25 February 2009, New Fathers 4 Justice protester Richard West scaled a pylon at Exeter Racecourse to protest at the town's MP Ben Bradshaw's refusal to meet the group. That day, Bradshaw was attending an event called "Visible, Valued and Vocal", organised by the charity Equality South West as part of LGBT History Month.
Members of the group are alleged to have conducted intimidating attacks in order to terrorize court staff and family lawyers. These attacks include throwing purple paint - the group's colour - on the outside of CAFCASS buildings, pushing rotten meat or fish through letterboxes, sending fake bombs, hate mail and verbal abuse. Fathers 4 Justice has admitted to incidents involving CAFCASS property but deny harassing individuals. During protests outside CAFCASS offices, individual case workers were identified by name in a similar style to animal rights protesters. One office was invaded by F4J members who tied up an unnamed employee allegedly suffering from a heart condition. However, no criminal proceedings are known to have resulted.
Fathers 4 Justice's main impact remains upon media coverage and legal treatment of fathers' rights issues in the UK. The use of high-profile and disruptive stunts has garnered significant UK media coverage.
The political aims of the group are as yet unachieved, but one of its central aims - the removal of secrecy surrounding family courts - is the subject of active political debate. In 2006, the Court of Appeal set a precedent allowing adults to discuss secret cases after they had finished. This resulted in a number of high-profile scandals, chiefly concerning adoption. In February 2009, Justice Minister Jack Straw announced plans to reverse this ruling.
A significant, unintended result of the F4J campaign has been the exposure of flaws in security at high-profile British institutions, resulting in security enquiries or reviews at Buckingham Palace and the House of Commons.
- Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service
- Child Support Agency (CSA)
- Child custody
- Families Need Fathers
- Family law
- Fathers' rights
- Fathers' rights movement in the UK
- Parental alienation
- Parental alienation syndrome
- Parenting plan
- Pressure groups in the United Kingdom
- Shared parenting
- Deborah Ross, Matt O'Connor: The man behind Fathers4Justice, The Independent, 4 July 2006.
- "Rooftop protest by 'caped crusaders'". BBC News. 2003-10-21. Retrieved 2006-06-03.
- "Rally over fathers' rights". BBC News. 2003-10-22. Retrieved 2006-06-03.
- "Spider-Man cordon criticised". BBC News. 2003-11-03. Retrieved 2006-06-03.
- "Spider-Man cleared after police tactics are revealed". The Times. 15 May 2004. p. Pg 5.
- "Blair hit during Commons protest". BBC News. 2004-05-19. Retrieved 2006-06-03.
- "Police aware of 'Leo kidnap plot'". BBC News. 2006-01-18. Retrieved 2006-06-03.
- "Fathers 4 Justice to end campaign". BBC News. 2006-01-18. Retrieved 2006-06-03.
- "Lottery show delayed by protest". BBC News. 2006-05-20. Retrieved 2006-05-20.
- Luke Salkeld, Fathers rights rooftop protestor accuses judge of aiming gun, Daily Mail, 28 November 2006. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article1985796.ece),(www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-464366/Fathers-rights-campaigner-jailed- child-support-battle.htm
- http://www.thisiswesternmorningnews.co.uk/displayNode.jsp nodeId=247699&command=displayContent&sourceNode=249470&home=yes&more_nodeId1=249131&contentPK=20867099
- Pink News, 22 September; http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-9056.html
- Fathers 4 Justice - Official Website (UK)
- Fathers 4 Justice - OFFICIAL Website (US)
- Lottery show delayed by protest
- Fathers' rights group scale abbey 13 April 2006
- Bob Geldof supports Fathers for Justice calling them heroic after critics attack their leadership. 27 May 2005
- Easter 2005 St Paul's Cathedral demo 25 March 2005
- Labour Party Conference demo 11 February 2005
- BBC iCan: Fathers' rights 12 July 2004