Fathers' group splits over tactics

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The Independent Online

Fathers 4 Justice, the militant dads' group that clambered on to the roofs of Buckingham Palace and the Foreign Office, is to swap superhero outfits for a suits and ties.

Fathers 4 Justice, the militant dads' group that clambered on to the roofs of Buckingham Palace and the Foreign Office, is to swap superhero outfits for a suits and ties.

Matt O'Connor, its founder, told The Independent on Sunday it was time for the group to "grow up" and switch to "serious and mature" lobbying of politicians. A planned demonstration in London to coincide with Father's Day, today, has also been called off.

But the organisation is divided, and there have been claims of financial mismanagement and alleged threats of violence and sexist behaviour. High profile-members have been thrown out and a renegade "Real Fathers 4 Justice" is being planned.

"At the start we had to adopt a high-profile strategy. But I fear I opened a can of worms. There is a group of angry fathers that were jeopardising everything," he said.

Militant fathers such as David Chick believe Mr O'Connor "sold out" by negotiating with the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), which advises courts in child custody cases. Cafcass last week called for a "constructive dialogue" with militant dads. Mr Chick, who caused chaos in London in 2003 dressed as Spiderman, regards Cafcass as the enemy.

Mr O'Connor will attempt to re-launch F4J later this year without the militant fathers, and hopes to be able to appoint a full-time parliamentary lobbyist.

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