Father-of-one Martin Matthews was given a court order to pay for damage to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s roof – nine days later he has resumed his protest.
Relentless New Fathers 4 Justice campaigners have renewed their campaign against Justice Secretary Chris Grayling just days after one of them was fined for damaging the Minister’s roof by hanging a banner from it protesting against the unjust family court system.
Father-of-one Martin Matthews spent six fruitless years battling with his ex-wife in the family courts over access to his son and now tirelessly campaigns for the fathers’ rights group.
Mr Matthews was slapped with a £100 fine and ordered to pay £200 in costs by magistrates for damaging Mr Grayling’s roof when he climbed up on top of the house in Park Lane, Ashstead, Surrey and screwed a Mums and Dads United banner into the bitumen between the tiles.
However, today, nine days later Mr Matthews has returned to the Epsom & Ewell MP’s home and was preparing to wait there for the whole weekend.
Mr Matthews, aged 47 years, said that his small band of protesters, made up of other disgruntled fathers, were quite comfortable, having lit a fire in a wheelbarrow to keep warm and cook potatoes.
“We have a lovely fire going,” he said. “Everyone driving past is waving and showing their support so it seems to be going down well.”
The group is camped on the green opposite the Lord High Chancellor of England’s house, which is in a street alongside properties worth in excess of £1 million.
The group is calling for the Justice Secretary to use his position to bring about the legal presumption of equal contact contact for a child with their parents if they split up and the abolish of the “deeply controversial, undemocratic secret” family court system.
“There are 13 million kids in this country, but four million of them don’t know what their dad looks like,” said Mr Matthews. “This is about fathers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles having access to their children.
“About two years ago Chris Grayling promised our local group he would come and talk to us, but he did nothing. This is about shaming Chris Grayling and letting people know what he is up.”
Mr Matthews and his wife divorced in 2004, but spent six long years wrangling through the family courts over access to their son. However, unemployed Mr Matthews, who is on Employment Support Allowance, said that eventually the pair of them came to an agreement between themselves.
“It all went thorugh the courts for six years,” he said. “But nothing happened. So we sorted it out ourselves, but nothing’s changed since then.”
A New Father’s 4 Justice spokesman said that because Mr Grayling had avoided the group by not giving in evidence in court they had no option but to wait outside his house.
“He avoided us in court so we had no option and will not leave until he speaks to us,” he said. “In the lead up to the election we are not going to let politicians ignore what’s happening in the secret family courts.”