Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tyne Bridge protest man vows to keep fighting

Simon Anderton, from Heaton, stayed on top of the Tyne Bridge for more than two days in a protest for Real Fathers for Justice

A FATHERS’ rights activist cleared of causing danger during a Tyne Bridge protest has vowed to carry on campaigning.

Simon Anderton, from Real Fathers For Justice, suspended a life-size, fully-clothed dummy from the girders during his one-man demonstration high above the river.

Prosecutors claimed the 50-year-old wanted to cause massive disruption by closing the bridge and that his suicide stunt with the mannequin risked the lives of motorists driving underneath.

But a Newcastle Crown Court jury took only 20 minutes to find Mr Anderton, from Heaton, Newcastle not guilty of attempting to cause a public nuisance.

They also cleared him on judge’s direction of causing a danger to road users by hanging the 12kg dummy on a rope.

After the verdicts Mr Anderton spoke both of his relief and determination to keep going as an activist against the family court system.

“I’m over the moon,” he said. “It is a fantastic outcome. Both myself and the group feel very vindicated.

“My only aim was to highlight our cause in a peaceful way not to create disruption or upset anyone.

“Obviously we want the public behind us not against us and the support I received from people while I was on the bridge actually kept me up there longer.

“They were tooting their horns and even shouting my name. I can’t thank them – or the jury – enough.”

Mr Anderton, a grandad and father-of-five, began his protest at dawn on Father’s Day last year. He defied a serious heart condition to climb to the top of the bridge carrying the dummy he had made himself with metal and rubber tubing.

Mr Anderton hung the mannequin firstly from the centre of the bridge before agreeing to let a firefighter to move it to another spot over the footpath – closed by police who had taken a decision to allow traffic to keep flowing.

Hunger and tiredness finally drove him down more than 48 hours after starting his protest.

He then spent three days in police cells before being bailed on strict conditions, including a nightly curfew.

But after his two-day court hearing, Mr Anderton said: “I will definitely carry on campaigning.

“That is without a shadow of a doubt because the issues involved are too important.”

A spokesman for Real Fathers For Justice also welcomed the verdict.

Mike Kelly, who helped negotiate with police during the protest, said: “We feel Simon has been really supported by the people of the North East and a jury of 12 men and women have shown that this protest was acceptable.

“We would like to thank them and the public for the support they have shown.”

The jury had asked to be allowed to make a statement of their own when they returned their verdicts – an almost unprecedented move.

But Judge Christopher Prince said no statement was allowed and that it formed no part of the jury’s function.

Real Fathers For Justice in the UK ~ Simon Anderton Not Guilty

Rffj Press Release

A delighted Simon Anderton
A Newcastle crown court jury of 6 men and 6 women took only 15 minutes to return their unanimous verdict of Not guilty, relating to all charges against Simon Anderton following the Tyne bridge father’s day protest of 15th June 2008.

Early in the second day of the case Judge Prince directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict to one of the 2 charges; this followed conflicting police testimony for the prosecution stating that the hanging mannequin posed no obvious threat to the public below, hence dropping the causing a danger to road users charge.

After the not guilty verdict for the remaining public offence charge; Simon (pictured left) said “Today is not only a victory for me and our campaign; it is also a victory for common sense and for every parent who wishes to highlight the failings of family law”

“Despite being exonerated of any wrongdoing in a criminal court today, it does little for the pain of not being able to be a father to my two beautiful daughters who I love dearly; having eventually been granted contact by the family courts, they failed to enforce their own order - I sadly have not seen either girl for over 8 years”

“Following this protest I was arrested and wrongfully imprisoned for a week, the police then harassed me unduly for the months that preceded my trial, my bail conditions required me to sign 3 days a week at a local Police station - I also had a 7pm-7am curfew, during the 6 months of the bail conditions police visited my residence an amazing 135 times to check whether I was abiding by the terms of the curfew”

“I would like to thank every member of the jury for seeing through this charade of a trial as a waste of tax payer’s money and to everyone who has supported me, every time we have tested a protest case before a jury of our peers we have gotten ourselves a not guilty verdict – that shows that we have the public on our side and they agree our protests are justified”

Rffj spokesman Mike Kelly added “This case shows people should not be afraid to protest against a family law system that still is not working effectively, we need more brave people like Simon to make a stand, and everyone can do something even if it is only a letter of support to their local paper or MP”

“This government will not stop the protests by their oppressive use of the police and crown prosecution service, family law is broken and we again call for wide sweeping reforms and unrestricted reporting of cases”

“Maybe next time an activist unfurls an Rffj banner on a building or in a public place, they will think twice before they try and silence us”

The chairman of the jury indicated he had a statement to read in open court following the delivery of the verdict, he was denied that privilege by Judge Prince, Rffj are happy to publish that statement upon our website: please email

Globe & Mail Editorial ~ Success, in contempt (Parental Alienation & Abduction)

My observations some of which are published on the Globe & Mail comments section:

I think your editorial is a break through in helping to uncover the dysfunction and bias that occurs in Family Law (FLAW). Those of us who walk in this man's shoes know exactly how he feels. The isolation, the desperation at the loss of love of your child, the loss of all light in the tunnel, which is so very long and so very dark. You ponder life and wonder if you can ever, ever see the light again. A parent, and there are females in the same boat, alienated from their child goes through a constant and never ending state of grieving.

Unlike the grief you suffer by a death in the family, which diminishes over time, an alienated parent's grief is palpable day in and day out. You know your child is out there but you have lost him/her often physically and emotionally. An alienated child does not want to see you or talk to you. The judge shows his great inexperience in these matters by allowing a phone call. It will be traumatic for both dad and the child as long as the mother has custody. Her life and view of men will be forever diminished.
What drives many men who walk in these same tattered and worn shoes is love of their children. The loss first comes out as anger but then you know that form of energy is unproductive and negative. You then re-channel the anger into passion. Passion that you know will someday bring about change from the current gender bias, very evident in Justice Leonard Ricchetti's decision, and all too common in our court system.
Almost 90% of physical custody is granted to females with dads getting 14% visitation if they are lucky. Many vindictive moms do exactly what happened in this case and withhold access or kidnap the children. A dad in this situation will often just give up and walk away. He will be deemed a deadbeat if he does not pay child support. He will be thrown in jail if he does not. Nothing will happen to the mom for her actions and as we see she may even be rewarded.MJM

Globe editorial

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Family courts are not supposed to reward abusive parents, and punish parents who play by the rules. They are not supposed to allow an abusive parent to nullify the responsible parent's role in a child's life. But that is exactly what an Ontario court has done in a case of parental alienation. It has, in effect, disposed of the child's father, perhaps permanently.

Tasnim Elwan has been given permission to take her nine-year-old girl from Canada to Saudi Arabia, where she will have "a seven-bedroom home with two nannies," thanks to Ms. Elwan's wealthy new spouse. The nine-year-old hates her father because he abandoned her - or so she thinks. When he managed, with the RCMP's help, to trace her to Saudi Arabia after her mother in effect kidnapped her, and made his way to that country for 10 days, he was permitted just 15 minutes with her. Some abandonment. And now he is to be allowed one telephone call a month, which the judge doesn't expect Ms. Elwan will allow, anyway.

Ms. Elwan makes no secret of her disgust with her former spouse, Ayman Al-Taher, a chaplain at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. She calls him a mentally disturbed supporter of Hamas and al-Qaeda. If those accusations were true, asked Mr. Justice Leonard Ricchetti, why then did she agree, in a formal, court- approved settlement, to allow him any access to their daughter? And why, he asked, make that settlement if she never intended to comply with its terms? (She was found in contempt of court for taking her child to Saudi Arabia.)

Even so, Judge Ricchetti rejected Mr. al-Taher's attempt to wrest custody from his ex-spouse when she temporarily returned to Canada. To take the child from her loving relationship with her mother and turn her over to a father she is unprepared to love would be traumatic, he said. Also, "the father's income is not substantial and cannot compare with what can be offered to meet [the child's] needs in Saudi Arabia." The father is dismissed for lack of funds.

Children are entitled to have as much contact as possible with both their parents. But that principle of law was knocked easily aside by an abusive parent. (Denying a child contact with another parent is deemed abuse in Ontario child-protection law.) Is it more important for a girl to have "a seven-bedroom home with two nannies" or a father, even if he is a hospital chaplain of limited means? One wonders whether a court, if the situation were reversed, would dispose so readily of a responsible mother of limited means.

The judge is saying, in effect, "Sorry, that's the best we can do in the circumstances." But that's not nearly good enough. The first step should be to strengthen the presumption that a child is entitled to both parents. Abusers should not be rewarded for their abuse. A child should not lose her father, and a father his daughter, to spare her the short-term trauma of a reunion.

The work of Fathers 4 Justice and the Pain of Fathers ~ Activism in the UK

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie