The group was asking passing motorists for support as they embarked on a weekend of peaceful protest outside the Justice Secretary’s Ashtead home
A team of protesters seeking extra rights for fathers in family courts set up camp outside a leading MP’s Ashtead house on Saturday (January 31).
Headed by longtime campaigner Martin Matthews, the group of four lit fires and asked passing motorists for support as they converged outside the home of MP Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Justice and MP for Epsom & Ewell.
The protest team, backed by New Fathers 4 Justice, was monitored by several police officers during the course of day – and there were plans for a similar campaign on Sunday (February 1).
Mr Matthews, 47, from Bookham, said it was all “nice and friendly” and that the police “had been great”.
“We have 13 million children in the UK, and at the moment four million of them are growing up in a household that doesn’t have a dad in it,” Mr Matthews said.
“By 2026 half of all children will grow up without a father – so what are they doing to us?”
It is not the first time Mr Matthews has publicly tried to get his voice heard, and follows on from a rooftop protest on Mr Grayling’s house in August last year, and subsequent scaling of Redhill Magistrates’ Court last month when facing charges for the original incident.
On Saturday Mr Matthews was joined by James Dennis, 45, from Birmingham; William Simpson, 35, from Ashtead; and Anthony Knowles, 56, from Epsom.
Mr Dennis said that he was “sick of the family courts and their gender bias”.
“I haven’t seen my children for four years – the whole system is stacked against fathers,” Mr Dennis said.
“So I am standing outside Chris Grayling’s house to try and get things to change.”
And Mr Simpson echoed the sentiment, believing that currently it is an “unfair system”.
“Fathers have just as many rights as mothers,” Mr Simpson added.
New Fathers 4 Justice is fully behind the weekend’s activities, saying “we support Martin and his fellow protesters 100%”.
A spokesman continued: “In the lead up to the election we are not going to let politicians ignore what’s happening in the secret family courts.
“No parent who is fit and willing should ever be denied their right to share equally in the lives of their own children.”
On Saturday a spokesman for Surrey Police confirmed that four officers were in attendance to “ensure a protest being held at the location remains peaceful”.
She added: “The protest, which involves four people, is currently peaceful and is taking place on public property.
“Surrey Police will always allow people to execute their right to a peaceful protest.”