Thursday, 1 November 2007

Judge Thorpe Demo

27 October 2007
By Lewis Cowen

There was lots of monkey business in Seend, near Devizes, on Saturday afternoon as members of the campaign group Fathers4Justice lobbied the home of High Court Judge, Sir Mathew Thorpe.

Ten uniformed police officers, including a dog team, protected Sir Mathew’s home, Beech House, from 15 protesters, many of them dressed in monkey suits, carrying placards saying “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”.

At the front of procession, which left the Bell Inn on the way along the village High Street, was Mark Harris, who waged a ten-year legal battle to gain access to his three daughters, chronicled in his book, Family Court Hell.

He wheeled a wheelbarrow full of legal papers which he wanted to present to Sir Mathew to highlight the complexity imposed on his simple desire to see his children.

He told the Gazette: “All we want is the same rights as mum’s new boyfriend, who can see the children any time he wants. The dad has to go to court to fight for that right and if the mother doesn’t comply, the courts do nothing.

“The law is in place. It is the Children’s Act 1989. All we are asking is that it is enforced and fathers are allowed to be fathers.”

Mr Harris had come from Plymouth to register his protest, but others had come much further.

Oliver Stones and his partner Marta Kolonko, had made the five-hour drive from East Yorkshire to take part in the protest.

Ms Kolonko is in the second year of a three-year legal course at Hull University because she wants to work to change family law in England.

She said: “The law in this country is ridiculous. It reminds me of North Korea. Oliver has a little boy four years old. We love him. But we managed to see him in August only because of a court order. The law must be changed.”

At the entrance to Beech House, Mr Harris thanked all those who supported him. He said: “Sir Mathew is not in today, but I hope we’ll catch him another time.

“For the moment, I would like to ask him, what have you got to hide?”


08:00 - 29 October 2007

Fathers' rights campaigners brought a bizarre air to a village on Saturday as dads dressed as monkeys marched on the house of a prominent family court judge.The Fathers4Justice campaign, with the theme of the three monkeys, lobbied the home of High Court judge Sir Matthew Thorpe in Seend, near Devizes, Wiltshire.

A strong police presence ensured the demo was stopped at the gates of the judge's country pad, but demonstrators claimed after the police left, they got back in to post bananas through his letterbox and fix placards to his garden.

Leading the protests was Richard Adams and Mark Harris, whose book describing his experiences in the Family Court system under Judge Thorpe has become what campaigners say is a damning indictment of the bias against fathers.

Mr Adams said campaigners wanted to highlight the plight of fathers caught up in the family court system, but also wanted to call on the perpetrators of high-profile graffiti-ing of historic sites in the West to stop.

Judge Thorpe was not at home on Saturday during the demonstration.

Within hours footage of the demonstration was posted on the internet, and Mr Adams said: "It was a shame the police left so quickly afterwards, they missed us going back to Thorpe's house to post bananas through the letterbox and put placards in his front garden, which looked like a golf course afterwards."