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January 18, 2006 permalink
In today's edition the tabloid The Sun in the UK published an article saying police had broken up a plan by fathers-4-justice to kidnap the five-year-old son of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The original article appears below.
Curiously, there were no arrests in the plot, and no plotters were named, suggesting the plot may not have been serious. But regardless of its truth, F4J founder Matt O'Connor has announced the disbanding of the organization. This action leaves the Canadian F4J orphaned. A press release by Hal Legere for F4J Canada follows the article.
In the name of the Fathers
SPECIAL Branch cops smashed a plot to kidnap little Leo Blair while monitoring a small band of fanatical dads, The Sun can reveal.
They stumbled across the startling plan as they investigated the activities of men on the lunatic fringe of the Fathers 4 Justice group.
Tony Blair and his wife Cherie were told about the threat to five-year-old Leo — the youngest of their four children.
A security source told The Sun: "They were naturally very concerned, as any parent would be. But they have been assured the police are on top of the situation."
A security assessment of the Prime Minister's family was carried out by Special Branch after the plot was uncovered.
It included analysis of the protection given to the Blairs' other three children — Euan, 22 tomorrow, Nicholas, 20, and 17-year-old Kathryn.
The source said: "Appropriate steps have now been taken."
The snatch plot chillingly demonstrates how extreme elements have attached themselves to Fathers 4 Justice.
It will horrify the group, which campaigns for dads from broken families to have better access to their kids, as it is bound to damage their cause.
And the conspirators may be from the breakaway camp which has threatened founder Matt O'Connor with DEATH because he is "not radical enough".
Special Branch came across the plan to abduct Leo just before Christmas.
No details of how the fanatics intended to snatch the child have been disclosed.
But it is understood the men only wanted to hold Leo for a short period of time and were not intending to harm him.
The security source said: "Fortunately we think we have nipped this in the bud at an early stage. There have been no arrests although inquiries are continuing. It was good intelligence work."
In the past Fathers 4 Justice dads have hurled purple powder at Mr Blair in the Commons.
They demonstrated dressed as superheroes and scaled St Paul's Cathedral and the London Eye.
And in 2004 "Batman" protester Jason Hatch, 32, scampered on to a Buckingham Palace ledge.
But the kidnap plot marks a sinister new tactic that would never be condoned by mainstream members of the group.
The growing threat posed by extremists was highlighted in November by an ITV documentary called Dad's Army.
It was based on a 12-month investigation of group members.
One man was secretly filmed boasting about beating up his ex-wife's lover — and threatening to kill the woman unless she allowed him access to his kids.
He was also recorded bragging about plans to vandalise court buildings.
Alarmed by growing extremism, Special Branch began monitoring the group three years ago. And their efforts intensified as some dads pressed for more "direct action".
Mr O'Connor, a 38-year-old dad of two, said in an interview late last year: "We exist to act as a positive force of change.
"But there are all manner of groups calling themselves Fathers 4 Justice who have nothing to do with us whatsoever."
He added: "I understand fully the anger and bitterness that drives people to think of extremes. But this is not the way forward for our movement."
Police refused to comment on the Leo plot.
Source: the Sun (UK)
18 January 2006 (For Immediate Release)
The media worldwide have been reporting that Security officials in the United Kingdom have reported discussions by "persons on the fringe of Fathers-4-Justice" in which the kidnapping of the son of British Prime Minister Tony BLAIR was the topic of the discussion. The reports we have seen indicate that this apparent discussion was merely "pub talk" and that no planning or actions taken to further this idea.
Fathers-4-Justice (Canada) in conjunction with Fathers-4-Justice organizations worldwide vehemently denounce even the thought that anyone would use a child as a tool for personal or political purposes.
The very existence of Fathers-4-Justice (Canada) and other like organizations worldwide is founded on the very principle of preventing the use of children as tools in any dispute or disagreement, whether by particular individuals, organizations or in fact state entities.
It is our belief that the existence of Fathers-4-Justice worldwide has created some hope for parents that the future holds some promise that the treatment of children as pawns in family disputes will soon be a footnote in history. We believe that it is in fact the existence of Fathers-4-Justice will give some desperate people hope and thus prevent the type of talk and or actions outlined in these reports.
Fathers-4-Justice (Canada) will take every action possible to ensure that no child is unnecessarily taken from his or her parents.
We sincerely regret that the name of our organizations has been used in this unfortunate incident. We regret that any parents, including the parents of young Leo, would be subjected to the fear that their child might be taken from them.
- Hal LEGERE National Director Fathers-4-Justice (Canada) (778) 837-1224
Fathers-4-Justice (Canada) is a non-violent direct action organization committed to the establishment of a fair and balanced family rebuilding system based on equality for all, the true rule of law, and the obvious premise that in the vast majority of cases children should never have a parent removed from them by state action.
Source: Hal Legere