'Batman' Protester Scales Royal Residence

Monday September 13, 2004 3:31 PM

LONDON (AP) - A protester dressed as Batman scaled up the front wall of Buckingham Palace Monday afternoon, reaching a ledge near the balcony where the royal family appears on ceremonial occasions, campaigners and witnesses said.

The protester was identified as Jason Hatch, 33, from Gloucester, a member of the Fathers 4 Justice group which is campaigning for greater custody rights for divorced or separated fathers.

No member of the royal family was at the palace Monday. Queen Elizabeth II was at her Balmoral residence in Scotland.

``We've got a guy dressed as Batman who's on Buckingham Palace on a balcony.'' said Matt O'Connor, spokesman for the group.

O'Connor said the protest was timed to coincide with Monday's trial of another group member, Patrick Ronald Davis, 48, who is accused of throwing purple flour at Prime Minister Tony Blair in the House of Commons in May. That incident sparked a security alert, and new restrictions on public access to the chamber.

On Saturday, another member of the group who dressed as Spider-man climbed atop the 450-foot (137-meter) London Eye Ferris wheel beside the River Thames.