Dismissed: the case of the Fathers4Justice campaigner and the disfigured 'Hay Wain'


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The Independent Culture

A Fathers4Justice campaigner who was arrested on suspicion of gluing a 4in photograph of a boy to an oil painting by John Constable has had his case thrown out by the Crown Court.

Paul Manning, 57, faced one count of damaging property after the photograph was glued to The Hay Wain in the National Gallery. The word “Help” was written on the photograph.

But Judge McCreath told London’s Southwark Crown Court that an expert had concluded that the damage had simply brought forward the painting’s planned restoration, costing £3,436 rather than the £30,000 the prosecution had originally said. He said: “I’m simply quashing the indictment. End of. The matter must take its course elsewhere.” Mr Manning’s case will now be sent to Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

The Hay Wain is one of the country’s most recognisable works of art. The attack took place in June, a fortnight after a painting of the queen by Ralph Heimans was vandalised with spraypaint in Westminster Abbey in what was believed to be a Fathers4Justice protest.

Shortly after the attack, Fathers4Justice founder Matt O’Connor said he would “destroy 10,000 Hay Wains” for the cause of access to children.