CAMPAIGNERS for fathers’ rights are planning to decorate a mysterious hillside figure with a Batman cape and mask.
The New Fathers 4 Justice activists have informed The Argus that they plan to adorn The Long Man of Wilmington with one of their superhero style outfits in a protest against the family court system.
The protesters are looking to pull off the stunt in the next fortnight despite appeals by the Sussex Archaeological Society and the site’s self-proclaimed guardian to stay away from the site.
The group say they aim to use a lightweight black plastic material similar to that used by farmers and a 37m plastic banner which will read Stop the war on Dads at the historic site on hills near Eastbourne.
Members of the group, which was founded in 2008, say they are a splinter group and are not associated with controversial Fathers4Justice UK founder Matt O’Connor.
The group campaigns for equal rights for fathers in divorce and separation proceedings and reform of the family courts and say they want to see an overhaul to the “secretive system”.
Protesters have gone public with their plans after an altercation with a “Pagan” man at the Longman site on Friday morning when they were measuring out the site.
Peter Moore, co-ordinator for New Fathers 4 Justice, said the group wanted to use the site because of its symbolic links to male fertility.
He added: “Years ago they allowed a TV programme to turn the Long Man into a female so what’s wrong with us doing it the other way round.
“We were aware that the authorities were likely to object on those grounds but what’s the difference between us and that TV programme?”
The historic site is protected under Scheduled Monument legislation.
Debbie Matthews, marketing officer with the Sussex Archaeological Society, which maintains the site, called on the group to reconsider.
She said: “The Long Man is a wonderful piece of cultural heritage, it means a lot of things to a lot of people.
“It is under threat from soil erosion which is exacerbated by people clambering around the hill.
“The site is particularly vulnerable at the moment because if it’s icy it can be quite dangerous because it is quite steep, and if it’s not icy there could be a lot of soil erosion because the ground is sodden. “We would ask them to respect our efforts to preserve our historic Sussex.”