Serial protester Martin Matthews and New Fathers 4 Justice chose an historic landmark in Hampshire for their latest stunt
A fathers’ right campaigner from Great Bookham scaled the Westgate fortified gateway in Winchester dressed as Batman and replaced the Queen’s Standard flag with a tea towel in the latest efforts to highlight his cause.
Martin Matthews, 48, has carried out a number of stunts with New Fathers 4 Justice in a bid to prompt authorities to give sidelined fathers better access to their children.
On Saturday (September 12), Mr Matthews and fellow campaigners Mohand Namani and Darren Lock, both from Birmingham, scaled the historic Anglo-Saxon gateway in an attempt to replace the Queen’s Standard with a Superman towel.
Speaking after the protest, Mr Matthews said: “Hoisting the Superman towel didn’t go too well – it was a bit shabby – so we ended up using a white tea towel.
“And I started out dressed at Batman but as it was a hot day ended up swapping the outfit with the other two protesters.
“I was wearing clothes underneath,” he added.
The trio accessed the roof from internal steps, wedging the historic door shut from the outside and remaining up there for around five hours.
“Mohand has a child with his first wife who he doesn’t see,” Mr Matthews said.
“One day he received a letter from school about the child’s progress and noticed they had a different surname.
“Mohand wanted to know how this had happened and ended up going through the courts, and after previously having access to the child is now only able to communicate by letter. It’s rather shocking.”
The latest rooftop protest was targeted at what Mr Matthews believes is growing parent alienation in society.
“It is a way of harming a child and we would like it made a criminal offence and brought up to the standard of child abuse,” he said.
“The courts recognise it as a condition. If the message is passed on to a child that someone doesn’t love them, it is very damaging.”
Mr Matthews has been campaigning since 1989 to improve fathers’ rights and has got “absolutely nowhere”, hence the increase in public stunts.
In July this year, the Surrey resident chained himself to the gates of the Royal Courts of Justice, in May he targeted Nick Clegg’s constituency office, in January he scaled the roof of Redhill Magistrates’ Court and in August 2014 staged a protest on former justice secretary Chris Grayling’s Ashtead home.
“We tried everything, lobbied Parliament and did all the rational things,” Mr Matthews said.
“Now we are just having fun and ridiculing the system.”
Government figures predict that by 2020 more than half of children will be living in a home without their father, Mr Matthews claimed.
“It’s got to a tipping point – I think it’s really sad,” he added.
Further protests are planned, Mr Matthews revealed, although they are still in the early development stages.