Why I climbed up St Paul Cathedral last week to protest for fathers rights

A week ago, I took the fateful decision to climb up St Pauls Cathedral in protest against the state of children’s and father’s rights in the UK. In many aspects it appeared cool and daring, especially as the whole thing was live streamed on Facebook, however in reality it required a great deal of planning and was the cause of a lot of stress.

The fact that one moment of mental laziness could lead to a fatal accident was rigorously drilled into my head by my rock-climbing father – I couldn’t simply take this as a fun day out. For over a month, my fellow protestors and I had to practice abseiling, create a plan of action and rehearse everything to precise timings. During the protest we were perched on a 3ft wide ledge with a sheer 90ft drop to the bottom. At times we experienced high winds and rain, which led for a both frightening and thrilling time at the top. Although I had to spend 15 hours in Bishopsgate police station after I came down and stressed myself out over the fine details of the protest, it was certainly worth it.


So what is the issue?

My gripe is specifically with the family courts system in the UK. These courts primarily deal with matters arising from the breakdown of a relationship, of which the custody of any children borne from the relationship is by far the most important issue. In child custody cases, more often than not, near total custody is retained by the mother. The best deal that fathers can hope for is seeing their child on every other weekend and that’s if everything goes smoothly.

This is absolutely crazy. To see your son or daughter every other weekend relegates you to a more visiting relative rather than a fully-fledged parent. Understandably this has a disastrous impact on both parties, with children largely losing touch with their loving fathers and fathers experiencing intense emotional distress at not being able to see their children regularly.

Outdated roles

A lot of people brush this off, saying that a mother often plays a much more important role in a child’s life than a father does.

A father is just as much a parent as a mother is and often cares for their children just as a mother does. Over the last century, we have done much to relegate traditional gender roles to the past. Indeed, women are no longer simply seen as homemakers, but as being capable of pursuing any career path in life they choose – quite rightly as well. It is a shame that the same cannot be said of the traditional male role in life. More often than not, men are considered to be incapable of the emotional capabilities needed to bring up a child well, with mothers been seen to be much more caring and affectionate than fathers. For a father to be viewed as less worthy than a mother is soul destroying and has no logical basis in modern society.


Personal experience

But above all, I was compelled to do what I did due to my personal experiences as a child. At the age of five my mother and father split up. For approximately two years after this date I had sporadic contact with my father, mostly in the form of weekend visits for a few hours arranged through a child contact centre. From the ages of seven to 14, this changed. I did not see my father at all during this period. To describe this as rough would be an understatement. I had almost no meaningful fatherly influence in my formative childhood years. Indeed, I viewed him as a general delinquent and to a large extent forgot that I even had a father. While I watched my friends playing or camping with their dads on the weekend, I was sat alone playing video games by myself, left to my own devices while I yearned to reconnect with my dad.

One particular event that stuck with me was the annual father-son cricket match that my school hosted every summer. One year I decided to go with my friend and his dad as I was tired of missing out of the fun. It was a disaster. I put on a brave face during the event, but seeing all my friends having such a great time with their fathers just reminded of the lack of a similar experience in my life. While they all looked so happy in the summer sun, I kept on asking myself “why can’t I just have a daddy like normal kids?” I cried myself to sleep that night.

Every day, more and more children are suffering the same fate that I suffered. No child or father deserves this. It must stop.

Rhal Ssan


A Warwick PPE student abseiled down St Paul’s Cathedral in protest of father’s rights

Warwick student, Rhal Ssan, climbed St Paul’s Cathedral in demonstration against father’s rights this weekend.

The climb, in association with New Fathers 4 Justice, was to protest the state of father’s rights in the UK.


The second year PPE student said: “My primary motivation was to bring awareness to the plight of children and fathers at the hands of the family courts system.

“A lot of children after a divorce or separation don’t get to see one of their parents, usually the father, as the courts deny access.

“Roughly 200 children are taken away by the family court’s every day from one of both parents. This must stop.”

The topic is extremely close to Rhal’s heart, as he didn’t see his father for almost 10 years.


The four activists abseiled down the London landmark at around 4pm, before unveiling the purple banner in front of huge crowds. The banners read “Pray for Children” and “Family Court Hell”.

The group remained at the cathedral well into the evening, ahead of a planned candlelit vigil.

Rhal continued: “I stayed up there for approximately four hours, coming down at around 7/8pm.

“I do feel it was a success, although not everything we planned occurred successfully.”

Campaigners believed to be linked to New Fathers 4 Justice have staged a protest at the top of St Paul’s.


St Paul’s Cathedral: Fathers’ rights protesters scale London landmark in dramatic demo

Pictures taken from the scene show large crowds have gathered at the cathedral as the drama unfolded as banners read: “”Pray for Children” and “Family Court Hell.”

View image on Twitter

A City of London police spokesman said officers were called to reports of four people in the stone gallery area of the dome at around 4.20pm.

Police remain at the scene and no road closures or cordons are in placOne man, who is thought to be a protester, wrote on Facebook: “We are climbing St. Paul’s Cathedral to protest at the shocking state of fathers rights in the UK.

“Roughly 200 children are taken away by the family courts everyday from one or both parents. This MUST stop.”

In a video posted on Facebook, a man says: “We are on top of St Paul’s Cathedral protesting against family courts and the parental alienation that it causes.

“If you probably know me you know that I didn’t get to see my dad for 10-odd years…pretty rough yeah and it does not need to happen to any of the 200 children on average this roughly happens to every single day.”

The group are expected to remain at the cathedral well into the evening ahead of a planned candlelit vigil.

They said letters explaining their actions were sent to police and church authorities.

New Fathers for Justice activist protests from inside a police van after being chucked out of Liverpool

Bobby Smith said he was banned while the Labour Conference was on

Bobby Smith New Fathers 4 Justice

This is a father’s for justice activist who claims he was banned from Merseyside by police in a bid to stop him protesting outside the Labour Conference .

Bobby Smith, leader of the Give Me Back Elmo party, posted two videos on his Facebook page – one while in the back of a police van – saying he hadn’t been charged with any crime but was being escorted to Ellesmere Port by police.

The 34-year-old activist said he was stopped by officers when he first set foot in Liverpool and then arrested while he went to the Beatles museum .

He said: “I’m inside the police van, I have just been released. As I drove across the Mersey Tunnel I was stopped by a policeman on the other side and they said something about Father’s For Justice.

“Gone to the Beatles museum and about eight policemen showed up and arrested me … and held me in the cell for two hours and wouldn’t give me a solicitor.

“As soon as I demanded a solicitor they released me straight away. They have now banned me for the next 24 hours and we are getting a police escort.”

Mr Smith, from Stevenage, made headlines after he scaled the roof of Angela Eagle’s office in Wallasey in July.

In August, he staged a roof protest at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s London home to demonstrate for New Fathers 4 Justice . He said he was protesting against Mr Corbyn’s views on shared parenting.

Mr Smith has also climbed on the roof at Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, and, with other campaigners, surrounded the Liverpool Radisson Blu hotel in February to try and confront Lord Justice Munby after a Family Law conference.

He said he was told to leave Liverpool today and not come back until Mr Corbyn had finished his speech at the Labour Party conference tomorrow.

Mr Smith said: “Thousands of people have protested at the conference and none of them have been arrested or given dispersal orders or been escorted away

“I have come here just me. Just one father’s rights protester with not even the intention of protesting and I have been escorted out of here by two police and held in a cell for two hours.”

A Merseyside police spokesperson said: “Merseyside Police can confirm a 34-year-old man from the Hertfordshire area has been arrested to prevent the breach of the peace after being stopped at the Albert Dock, Liverpool this afternoon.

The man was arrested after a number of banners and a loudhailer were found in his car.

He was taken to a police station on Merseyside where he has been issued with a notice under the Antisocial behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which will direct him to leave the area and prevent him from re-entering Merseyside until 18.00hrs on Wednesday, 28 October.


New Fathers 4 Justice campaigner Haydn Burton ‘bullied in Winchester prison’ days before his death



A HAMPSHIRE father’s rights campaigner claimed he was being bullied in prison days before his death, an inquest heard.

Haydn Burton died at Royal Hampshire County Hospital days after he was found hanging in his cell at Winchester Prison.

However his mother believes he did not “intend” to take his own life, and he did it out of desperation so he could be moved away from his wing.

Mr Burton, 42, was being held in remand at the prison facing an allegation of assault.

He was also due to be sentenced at crown court for possession of an offensive weapon, criminal damage to a police cell and breach of a criminal behavioural order by being anti social.

Mr Burton was a member of New Fathers 4 Justice and was campaigning to highlight children’s rights including secret family courts.

He had become a well-known figure in Winchester city centre protesting at the corner of Upper Brook Street and St George’s Street in a Superman costume and with a loud hailer.

Coroner Grahame Short told jurors a summary of the sequence of events before Mr Burton’s death in July last year.

The court heard how he was taken to HMP Winchester on May 26 last year after being charged with two accounts of assault causing actual bodily harm.

On June 17 he appeared at Winchester Crown Court via video, where he asked to change his lawyer and made account to being stabbed with a biro in prison the previous day.

He was also committed to court for other offences and was due to be sentenced in August.

The following month, on July 14, he was put on a care in custody and treatment plan, where he was watched hourly after prison officers believed he was at risk of suicide or self harm.

A prisoner who is trained to listen in confidence to the concerns of fellow inmates, also heard how Mr Burton, formerly of Wolfe Close, Stanmore, in Winchester, had spoken of debts and hanging himself.

On July 15, after a fellow inmate left his cell and between checks by prison officers, he was found hanging.

In a statement by Mr Burton’s mother Maureen Carter said: “He had concerns about debts he had in prison and spoke about bullying to his father in telephone conversations.

“We do not believe that he meant to end his life, he lived for his daughter and he had not given up that he would see her again.

“He would have been aware of the time when someone was due to check on him again.

“He thought he would be moved off the wing and away from those who gave him trouble, tragically he was not found in time, it did not go the way he thought it would.”

The inquest also heard he told his grandmother Rose Goldie about hanging himself, that he “expected” to be beaten up because of debts, and said he would not see her again.

She told the court it came “out of the blue” when he told her that and regrets that she did not take it more seriously and tell a prison officer.

The inquest continues and will last up to two weeks.

New Fathers 4 Justice – Superhero Dads campaigning for the rights of fathers to see their children

New Fathers 4 Justice – Superherodads

New Fathers 4 Justice is a direct action fathers rights protest group campaigning for the rights of fathers to see their children. No parent who is fit and willing should ever be denied their right to share equally in the lives of their own children.

We use direct action and protests to highlight the injustice parents and grandparents face in the present family court system.

New Fathers 4 Justice is not affiliated with Fathers 4 Justice (F4J) UK or its founder Matt O’Connor. We  were formed in 2008 and still use Superhero costumes in our direct action protests.

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New Fathers 4 Justice – What do we want? 

We want nothing less than a legal presumption of equal contact as a starting point for a child if their parents  split up, and the abolition of the deeply controversial secret court system that still exists within the ‘family’ division despite many years of inequality and protest.

Shared parenting  will give both parents equal parity of rights to see the children. In short, we want dads to have an equal status….same as Mum!!

We want an open transparent  Family Court system to be brought into line with the crown and magistrates courts. This will prevent corruption, bias and implement a culture of accountability with the judiciary.

In 2014 Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, said “the public had a right to know what is being done in their name and called for the courts to adapt to the internet era.Why are we still waiting for transparency in the family courts?

We believe that contact denial through Parental Alienation  is emotional abuse and that a breach of court order is a crime. The assistant director of Cafcass has recently said:

“Parental alienation is responsible for around 80% of the most intransigent cases that come before the family courts” .

The time is right and the time has come now for every dad to get motivated and protest against the injustices of the secret Family Courts and bias in the Family law system. We must all be prepared to commit to campaigning but for the benefit of all children, parents and grandparents.

Don’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself.You don’t have to scale Buckingham Palace clad in lycra dressed as Batman, but it does mean that every supporter is expected to campaign. There are many ways in which you can do this.

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Inquest into the death of Haydn Burton, fathers’ rights campaigner, due to start on Monday (From Hampshire Chronicle)

The inquest of a fathers’ rights campaigner found hanging in Winchester Prison is to be held this week.

Haydn Burton

The inquest of a fathers’ rights campaigner found hanging in Winchester Prison is to be held this week.

Haydn Burton, 42, was discovered by prison officers in July last year.

He was rushed by ambulance across Romsey Road to the Royal Hampshire County Hospital where he later died.

Mr Burton was a member of New Fathers 4 Justice and was campaigning to highlight children’s rights including secret family courts.

He had become a well-known figure in Winchester city centre protesting at the corner of Upper Brook Street and St George’s Street in a Superman costume and with a loud hailer.

Mr Burton, formerly of Wolfe Close, Stanmore, was being held on remand at the prison facing an allegation of assault.

He was also due to be sentenced at crown court for possession of an offensive weapon, criminal damage to a police cell, and breach of a criminal behaviour order by being anti-social.

The hearing at Winchester Coroner’s Court is due to start on Monday and is scheduled to last up to eight days.

 New Fathers 4 Justice Haydn Burton


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