'Desperate dad' stages protest on Parliament's roof

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The Independent Online

Guy Harrison, who was involved in the powder bombing of Tony Blair by the radical campaign group in the House of Commons last year, said it was the only way for his daughter to see images of him before his birthday today. He has not seen the girl for more than four and a half years.

Fathers 4 Justice are demanding wholesale reform of the family courts system, including a legal presumption that both parents and grandparents are entitled to contact with children in custody disputes.

Mr Harrison, who is 38 today, and a friend managed to gain access to the roof of Westminster Hall after joining a public tour of the House of Commons. They left the tour and Mr Harrison climbed out of a window before unfurling a banner reading "Does Blair Care?" Few staff or MPs were in Parliament as the Commons is in recess.

Mr Harrison, a millionaire farmer and entrepreneur who lives in Ashurst, West Sussex, said: "This is my birthday present for my daughter, to tell her how much I love her and miss her." He added: "We've been struggling with various government bodies for nine months, trying to negotiate things, but as they are not taking it seriously again, we felt we had to return to this."

Activists have been angered that proposed reforms of the family courts do not include a clear presumption of contact. Mr Harrison was involved in an F4J protest last year when he invaded the Commons chamber and threw condoms filled with purple flour at the Prime Minister. He claims he was driven to take drastic action after spending tens of thousands of pounds on more than 30 court hearings in attempts to see his daughter.

Speaking by mobile phone from his rooftop protest yesterday, Mr Harrison said that he had deliberately chosen not to stage his protest at the Labour Party conference in Brighton because he did not want to cause alarm.

The group had also contacted Scotland Yard to warn of the impending demonstration. He said: "We chose to do this today on top of Parliament and not in Brighton as we did not want to be seen as a terrorist threat or anything like that. We are not out to undermine the police. We just want to get our message across."

Mr Harrison came down from his perch just after 8pm, five hours after he climbed on to the roof. He rolled up his banner and clambered on to a turret where he was met by police officers, who arrested him for aggravated trespass.

Another Fathers 4 Justice member was driven away in an ambulance after slipping on the pavement following a scuffle with police.

Matt O'Connor, the founder of F4J, said the men were surprised by the ease with which they gained access to the House. "They went into the main entrance to the Houses of Parliament, which is a bit of a surprise because we thought obviously he would be a familiar face to them from last year," Mr O'Connor said.