Fathers 4 Justice storm BBC's live lottery show
Fathers' rights activists last night disrupted the live National Lottery draw after invading the BBC TV studio where the programme was being broadcast.
Eamonn Holmes, the presenter, was led from the stage as Fathers 4 Justice demonstrators stormed the set of the BBC1 National Lottery: Jet Set programme. The show was interrupted for several minutes before the draw for the week's £17m Superdraw jackpot was resumed. The group, which campaigns for equal parental access to children, immediately claimed that its campaigners were behind the stunt.
The group officially disbanded in January after some members were accused of plotting to kidnap Leo Blair, the youngest son of the Prime Minister. However, Fathers 4 Justice said in a statement that it was relaunching after a five-month halt to its activities.
Last night's invasion of the National Lottery marks the second anniversary of the group's notorious flour-bomb attack in the House of Commons. F4J sparked a major security scare after Tony Blair was hit by a purple, flour-filled condom hurled from the public gallery by Guy Harrison during Prime Minister's Questions on 19 May 2004. Mr Blair was unhurt, but Michael Martin, the Commons Speaker, immediately suspended the sitting halfway through the session.
Mr Harrison, a spokesman for the paternal rights group, said last night: "Tonight marks the dramatic return of Fathers 4 Justice. The Lottery is a metaphor for what can happen to any parent, mother or father, and their children, at the hands of the secret family courts.
"It's our duty to warn parents about what is happening and send them this message: don't play family law Lotto - don't gamble with your kids."
Alan Dedicoat, the BBC announcer and the "voice of the balls" in the lottery draw, was forced to improvise a commentary while the demonstrators were cleared from the studio.
He told BBC News 24: "The director, mercifully, cut away from most of what was going on and we were left with presenters Sarah Cawood and Eamonn Holmes in the shot. We got to a point where we felt we couldn't go any further so we just put up a caption. We were trying then to decide where do we go next because time was running out, and The Eurovision Song Contest was coming up in seconds."
The demonstration delayed the draw but otherwise had no impact. Afterwards, Holmes joked: "If anyone else is going to protest, please start now."
Ben Rosier, a spokesman for Camelot, which runs the National Lottery, said: "It's amazing what people will do when there are 10 million people watching and £17m is up for grabs."
In its statement, Fathers 4 Justice warned of future protests which would use "agitprop" tactics at high-profile events and on live television, as well as "pranks and hoaxes".
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