- Martin Matthews, 48, and Bobby Smith, 33, scaled Buckingham Palace
- Men used ladder to climb onto roof of palace in protest over fathers’ rights
- Third activist caused distraction while they scaled Queen’s Gallery building
- Metropolitan Police confirmed pair arrested on suspicion of trespassing
Fathers’ rights activists who caused a security breach at Buckingham Palace after using a ladder to scale the building and climb onto the roof have said taking a bullet ‘would have been worth the risk’.
Martin Matthews, 48, and Bobby Smith, 33, managed to breach security by using a ladder to scale the roof of the London landmark after another campaigner caused a distraction.
The pair were able to climb onto the top of the Queen’s Gallery, a public art gallery to the rear of the palace, just before 4pm despite a number of police officers being nearby, Mr Matthews said.
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Activists Martin Matthews, 48, and Bobby Smith, 33, used a ladder to breach security at Buckingham Palace in central London in a protest over the family court system but were detained by police (above) after eight hours
Police, clad in climbing gear and protective helmets, managed to scale the roof to get up to the men, before leading them safely down ladders and off the palace roof and detaining them on suspicion of trespassing
The men scaled the roof of the Queen’s Gallery, a public art gallery at Buckingham Palace, central London, at around 4pm and held a banner which read: ‘I am Harry’s dad’ and another which said ‘New Fathers 4 Justice’
The campaign group said on social media it was protesting against fathers not being able to see their children
Speaking from the roof, where the pair held a banner reading ‘I am Harry’s dad’, Mr Matthews said: ‘We parked a road away and came with a long ladder and walked past a number of armed policemen. They presumed we were workmen’.
He said he was aware of the risks he was taking in light of heightened security concerns following the Paris terror attacks but said it was worth it to protest against Britain’s family court system.
‘Obviously there were a few concerns. People are going to be nervous at the moment,’ he said.
‘But even if I had taken a bullet, it would have been worth the risk.’
A spokesman for the activists said another campaigner – believed to be James Dennis from Gloucestershire – had caused a distraction outside the palace as the two men climbed onto the roof.
The demonstration came to a dramatic end at about 11pm last night – after more than eight hours – when Mr Matthews and Mr Smith were arrested on suspicion of trespassing on a protected site.
Police, clad in climbing gear and protective helmets, managed to scale the roof to get up to the men, before leading them safely down off the palace roof and detaining them.
The activists were protesting as part of a joint campaign by the groups New Fathers 4 Justice and Stop The War On Dads.
They are calling for equal rights for fathers in divorce and separation proceedings and for a reform of the family courts to prevent fathers from being stopped from seeing their own children.
Before the activists were helped down by police (pictured) and later arrested, Martin Matthews said it would be ‘worth the risk’ of taking a bullet during the protest on the roof of the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace
One of the fathers’ rights campaigners is led away by an officer, who is clad in climbing gear and a hard hat
The demonstration came to a dramatic end at about 11pm last night – after more than eight hours – when Mr Matthews and Mr Smith were arrested on suspicion of trespassing on a protected site. Pictured: Police on site
The fathers’ rights activists scaled the roof of the Queen’s Gallery and held a banner which read: ‘I am Harry’s dad’. The demonstration is part of a campaign by the groups New Fathers 4 Justice and Stop The War On Dads
The two men, who stayed on the roof of the London landmark until 11pm last night (pictured), called for equal rights for fathers in divorce and separation proceedings and for a reform of the family courts proceedings
A spokesman for the campaigners said Christmas was a particularly emotional time for parents and children who were separated.
‘Parental alienation should be criminal offence and parents who, following the breakdown of a relationship, attempt to turn their child or children against the other parent should be prosecuted,’ they said.
The men have previously staged a host of high-profile protests in a bid to campaign against fathers’ rights.
Mr Smith, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, dressed as Sesame Street character Elmo when he stood against David Cameron in the Prime Minister’s constituency of Witney, Oxfordshire, in the general election. The activist also previously scaled Westminster Abbey on Father’s Day.
Meanwhile, Mr Matthews, from Great Bookham in Surrey, has previously scaled the home of the Leader of the House of Commons in Ashtead, Surrey, while dressed as Bob The Builder in protest at the family court system.
As he perched on the roof of Chris Grayling’s constituency home, the house quickly became the meeting ground for dozens of activists fighting for the rights of fathers to have better access to their children.
Mr Smith, who has been denied contact with his children since May 2011, said: ‘There should be a starting point of 50-50 for parenting.’
And Mr Matthews, 48, added: ‘We must stop the war on dads.’
Armed police were deployed to the protest on the roof of the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace yesterday
The men (right) scaled the building and set up camp on the roof of the Queen’s Gallery, to the rear of the palace
Police outside the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace last night as negotiators try to talk down the men
The men scaled the roof of the Queen’s Gallery, a public art gallery at Buckingham Palace in central London
The Metropolitan Police confirmed there had been a security breach at Buckingham Palace just after 4pm and said the incident was resolved by 11pm.
A spokesman said: ‘Police were called to a report of a protest taking place at the Queens Gallery at 4.28pm.
‘Officers attended and two males were found to have climbed on to the roof of the entrance at the location.’
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are not thought to have been staying Buckingham Palace at the time of the breach.
The Queen’s Gallery, where the men scaled the roof, is a public art gallery which contains a wide range of Royal Collection treasures including portraits of Her Majesty.
It is situated to the left rear of Buckingham Palace but is not classed as an official Royal Residence.
The palace said the matter was being dealt with by the Met Police as per all security breaches.
PANIC AT THE PALACE: OTHER SECURITY BREACHES AT QUEEN RESIDENCE
It is not the first time there has been a security breach at Buckingham Palace, which is meant to be one of the best-guarded buildings in Britain.
In September 2013, suspected burglar Victor Miller was arrested after being discovered in a royal state room at the palace.
Police said 37-year-old DJ was found ‘in an area currently open to the public during the day’ after scaling a 12ft fence to get inside. He was arrested for burglary, trespass and criminal damage.
The intruder is said to have made his way to the State Rooms, where all of the Queen’s priceless paintings by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Titian are kept.
Police officers tasered Talhat Rehman to the ground after he brandished knives outside the palace last year
A security review was launched and Scotland Yard faced a major inquiry following the break-in, although no members of the royal family were present at the palace at the time of the incident.
In another incident, in February 2013, police officers had to subdue a man with a Taser after he brandished two large kitchen knives outside the palace gates.
Talhat Rehman, 54, was filmed holding a blade to his own neck as he walked through crowds of tourists before police surrounded him and used a Taser stun gun to disarm him.
As a policeman shouted a warning call of ‘Taser, Taser, Taser’ to his colleagues, the knifeman allegedly lunged forward, brandishing a six-inch blade in a series of swipes, before falling to the floor as he was stunned by the electrical charge.
Meanwhile, in another campaign act by fathers’ rights activists, a protester dressed as Batman crept onto a ledge next to a balcony in the palace after using a ladder to get over the walls.
Jason Hatch, a member of the group Fathers4Justice, then unfurled a banner and spent five hours in full public view before he was arrested by police. The ease with which he had made it into the palace prompted an urgent review of Royal security.
Fathers4Justice campaigner Jason Hatch made it on to a prominent spot of Buckingham Palace in 2004
Spectators looked on for five hours before he could be moved away from the precarious spot by police
Last year, an armed Queen’s Guard was forced to raise his rifle at a ranting would-be intruder outside the palace after he claimed he was expecting to be ‘welcomed’ inside by the Queen.
The man, later named as Tosin Odunaiya, a 23-year-old Nigerian who came to Britain illegally, had been shouting at royal protection officers for five minutes at the royal residence’s north centre gate when the armed soldier intervened.
Michael Fagan made his way into the Queen’s bedroom after breaching the palace in 1982
Witnesses told how the he strode 50 yards from his post to join the confrontation with the intruder, who later claimed he was expecting a ‘private audience’ with the Queen.
Other breaches at the palace include a 1994 incident when a naked America paraglider was able to land on the building’s roof.
The following year a student rammed the gates at 50mph in his car, while months later an undercover reporter was given a job as a palace footman on the strength of a fake CV.
However, the most egregious breach of Royal security was the case of Michael Fagan in 1982.
Fagan, then 33, managed to scale the walls of the palace on the morning of July 7, climb a drainpipe and wander the palace before making his way into the Queen’s room.
He tripped several alarms, all of which were faulty, and was able to swig from a bottle of wine on his travels through the Royal residence. He was eventually apprehended by protection officers.
For a long time it was thought Fagan had been able to chat with the Queen while in her bedroom, but he later admitted in an interview that she had called security immediately.
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