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F4J Closes Highway
August 15, 2008 permalink
Batman, Fathers 4 Justice member Geoffrey Hibbert, closed a belt highway circling London for two hours. The extensiveness of the report shows that the British press is taking the issue seriously.
Fathers 4 Justice protester arrested after M25 stunt causes 15-mile traffic jam
A Fathers 4 Justice campaigner was arrested today after climbing down from a gantry over the M25.
Geoffrey Hibbert, dressed as Batman, brought Britain's busiest stretch of motorway to a standstill during rush hour.
Thousands of drivers, including holidaymakers on their way to Heathrow, were left stranded after police were forced to shut part of the M25 near the junction with the M4 for nearly two hours.
Tailbacks stretched for 15 miles after the computer engineer scaled a gantry on the London orbital motorway at 7am and unfurled a banner with pictures of his eight-year-old daughter.
Mr Hibbert was arrested on suspicion of causing danger to road users and putting articles on or over the road.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that the protest ended around 4pm when the man voluntarily came down.
He said: "The man came down of his own accord,
"He was arrested by officers at the scene on suspicion of causing danger to road users and putting articles on or over the road.
"He has been taken to a West London Police Station where he is being questioned by police.
"We do not know at this stage whether he came down because he was bored or cold."
A spokesman for the Highways Agency confirmed that all lanes of the M25 had now been reopened but that lengthy delays remained.
The 48-year-old says he has been barred from seeing her since his former partner left last August, despite lodging several court appeals.
He claimed to have received support from passing drivers for what was the first Fathers 4 Justice protest on a major road for four years.
But Sheila Rainger, deputy director of the RAC Foundation, said the stunt was misconceived.
She said: 'He is entitled to make his point, but by doing it this way he isn't hurting the government, he is hurting thousands of ordinary people who are trying to go about their business.
'Among those who were held up while trying to get to Heathrow must have been many fathers taking their children on holiday.'
Chris Connor, from Buckinghamshire, was caught in the chaos as he travelled from Fulham, West London, to Woking in Surrey.
He said: 'I was stationary for 25 minutes. People were walking around outside their cars on the motorway.'
Police reopened part of the motorway after but there were delays anti clockwise for most of the day.
Mr Hibbert, from Farnborough, Hants, said the protest was for his daughter.
He added: 'I cannot describe how not being able to see her makes me feel
'I hope that she sees it so that she knows that I want to see her. If I had taken her away I would be in prison for kidnap but my ex-partner can do it and it's fine. Where is the justice?'
'I've got lots of support from motorists passing on the other side. I have had both men and women shouting their support out the windows to me. Even children have given me a cheer.'
The grandmother of the child at the centre of the protest claims however that her family were not preventing the youngster from seeing her dad.
Jackie Pound said her daughter, 32-year-old Nicola Sharp, was upset that she was being accused of separating Mr Hibbert from his daughter.
Sharp said: "Nicola has never stopped the children from seeing their Dad,"
"It's completely untrue.
"She has actively tried to encourage Chyann to talk to him on the phone but the little girl doesn't want to.
"Last September he was on the phone and we tried to pass it to Chyann and she sat on her hands.
"Nicola has also kept his phone number and only a few days ago she told Chyann she still has the number if she wants to call her Daddy.
"She doesn't want to speak to him. This is 110 per cent Chyann's decision and nobody else's."
Mrs Pound said that her daughter, who has another son Ben, aged 15 years, was not shocked to see Mr Hibbert on the motorway gantry.
She said: "I had a phone call this morning telling me he was on the bridge.
"It wasn't a complete surprise."
Mr Hibbert has three other children from a previous relationship who he has access to.
His friend, Ron Reed, said: 'He's been driven to desperation, he's been through all the courts to get access to his daughter and it's cost him £27,000.
'He last saw her in August last year and he's only spoken to her once.
'The courts are so geared to the mother, the father gets no justice and that means the kids don't get justice.'
Fathers 4 Justice founder Matt O'Connor said the group had steered away from direct action which affects roads in the last four years to avoid disruption to the public.
He added: 'Having said that we like to do something slightly different and mix things up.
'A lot of fathers want to do their own thing and providing it is peaceful and non-violent direct action we will help them in any way.
'The public either love us or they hate us. There is an important message here. This is not a protest, it is an emergency.
'The government in this country do not seem prepared to grasp we are dealing with the serious issue of fathers not seeing their children and this becoming a fatherless country.'
Harriet Harman was forced out of her home in June after two Fathers 4 Justice campaigners dressed as comic book superheroes climbed onto her roof and refused to leave.
The deputy leader of the Labour Party and Minister for Women refused to meet the pair.
Source: The Daily Mail (UK)