Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fathers 4 Justice protester jailed

Fathers 4 Justice protester jailed

July 16, 2009

A FATHERS 4 Justice campaigner who brought Britain's busiest motorway to a standstill by climbing a gantry dressed as Batman was sent to prison for six months on Thursday.

Geoffrey Hibbert, from Farnborough, clambered to the top of the overhead sign and unravelled banners, forcing police to close off 12 lanes of the M25 near Stanwell while he staged the dramatic protest against his treatment at the hands of the family courts.

The desperate dad spent more than eight hours dangling above the motorway, causing tailbacks stretching up to 55 miles.

Despite claiming his actions were not dangerous and were part of a legitimate right to protest, the estranged parent was previously convicted of one count of causing a public nuisance and a second of endangering motorists.

Sentencing the smartly-dressed 49-year-old to six months in jail, Judge Alan Greenwood said: "You climbed a gantry which ran across they M25. You took a rucksack, banners, climbing equipment and your mobile phones.

"You then moved across lanes while the traffic was travelling at great speed and in doing so created a danger that you might fall.

"You could have dropped your rucksack or any other of your possessions and if that had happened you would have caused a serious accident.

"In addition you threatened to jump. In addition to you or something falling, it was inevitable that motorists were distracted or slowed down to look and take photos of you dressed in a Batman outfit.

"All relevant authorities were put on alert and lanes were closed to prevent the danger, causing great loss to those who were queuing up and had urgent business to attend to."


During Hibbert's four-day trial, jurors heard evidence from several police officers and watched TV footage that showed him dressed as the comic book hero and banners with the photograph of his nine-year-old daughter.

However, despite evidence that his actions led to motorists swerving and even taking pictures of the demonstration, Hibbert denied he acted dangerously and claimed he was trying to get law-makers to open their eyes.

Fiona Horlick, prosecuting told jurors that on August 15 last year the property developer was dropped off by a friend by the motorway gantry where he scaled an unlocked ladder and unfurled three banners.

Highways Agency staff and police then took the decision to close all 12 lanes of the motorway during rush hour, causing more than 50 miles of tailbacks on the M25 and M4.

The court was told that more than £14,000 pounds of taxpayers' cash was spent on emergency services during the protest and an estimated £580,000 pounds was lost to businesses affected by the closure of the motorway.

Bespectacled Hibbert winked at friends and family in the packed public gallery when he was led into the dock at Harrow Crown Court.

A tight security presence had been laid on at the hearing with members of the public issued passes to get into the hearing and a number of policeman sitting in and outside the courtroom.

Marion Smullen, defending, said that Hibbert, of Clayton Road, Farnborough, was left a "broken man" after he was denied access to his daughter and step-daughter and was driven to the protest out of desperation.

She claimed he had spent £54,000 pounds of his own cash unsuccessfully attempting to gain access to his daughter who he had not seen since August 2007.


After the sentencing, members of The Real Fathers 4 Justice and New Fathers For Justice staged a protest outside the court, posing as Guantanamo Bay prisoners, dressed in orange boiler suits and with bags over their heads.

Spokesman Richard West, from New Fathers Dor Justice, said: "This trial has been a complete sham from start to finish.

"The sole motivation is political. Mr Hibbert has been made a scapegoat and, in the own judge's words, sentenced to deter others."

However friends and family of the defendant criticised the activists for encouraging him to stage the protest and then "leaving him to rot".

Nephew Paul Morrison, 35, said: "Fathers 4 Justice was a bad influence and took advantage of him. They gave him bad advice and once he had given them publicity they left him to rot."

'Batman' protest father is jailed

campaigner Geoffrey Hibbert
Mr Hibbert unfurled banners from the M25 gantry

A fathers' rights campaigner who spent hours on an M25 gantry dressed as Batman has been jailed for six months.

Fathers 4 Justice activist Geoffrey Hibbert, 48, of Farnborough, Hampshire, spent seven hours on the overhead sign near Heathrow Airport last August.

He had denied a charge at Harrow Crown Court of causing a public nuisance and one of endangering motorists.

Last August's protest created traffic queues of up to 19km (12 miles) on the M25 and 32km (20 miles) on the M4.

Hibbert unfurled banners from the gantry during his protest.

In Oz ~ Ruling favours 'happy' father

Notice the spin Overington and the editors have put on the story with its implicit bias and victim feminist slant. The headline says it favours father but under shared parenting it actually favours the children. One day perhaps we will see less sexism involved when it comes to matters of custody but its a long way off yet.MJM

Caroline Overington | July 15, 2009

Article from: The Australian

A FAMILY Court magistrate has ruled that the right of two young children to have a meaningful relationship with their father is more important than the unhappiness of their mother, who wanted to relocate them from Sydney to Melbourne following the breakdown of their marriage.

A woman's right to start fresh after divorce -- colloquially known as the "happy mum, happy child principle" -- has long been used by lawyers acting for mothers in Family Court matters.

For at least a generation, lawyers have successfully argued that a mother who was settled and happy in a new life was more beneficial to a child than frequent contact with the children's father.

The most recent relocation case to come before the Federal Magistrates Court shows how far the ground has shifted.

The case, known as Beaufort and Beaufort, involves a couple who married in 1991 and have two children, aged 6 and 8.

The couple separated in March 2005, and in July 2005 the father announced he was in a new relationship with his personal assistant. They purchased a "knock-down" property and built a five-bedroom house on the site. They are now engaged, and planning to have more children.

The mother, 46, who moved to Sydney with her husband in 2001, wants to move back to Melbourne, where she is part of a large Italian family, including four siblings, grandparents, aunts and cousins.

She told the Federal Magistrates Court, sitting in Sydney, that she was miserable and isolated in Sydney, watching her ex-husband and his new girlfriend get on with their lives, while she was stuck in a "holding pattern".

She recognised the children were close to their father, but said he was wealthy and could fly to Melbourne on weekends to see the children.

He objected to this idea, saying he would have to stay in a serviced apartment, with none of the children's toys around, in an artificial environment.

The mother's legal team raised the case of Taylor and Barker (2007), in which the Family Court allowed a mother to relocate her son from Canberra to the Atherton Tablelands in north Queensland, so she could marry another man.

The magistrate in that case said the relocation was in the best interests of the child, in part because it would make the mother happy. There was evidence that father and son had a close and loving relationship, but the magistrate was concerned with the mother's "happiness and contentment".

The magistrate in the Beaufort case said changes to the Family Law Act meant the court must apply the presumption that a child's best interests were served by having a relationship with both parents, ahead of the mother's happiness. Under questioning, the mother agreed that the children's relationship with their father was more important than their relationship with her extended family.,28124,25784266-17044,00.html

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

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie