Tue, September 14, 2004

A royal roost for 'Batman'

HOLY INTRUDER! A protester dressed in a Batman costume scaled the front wall of Buckingham Palace in London yesterday and perched for more than five hours on a ledge near the balcony where the royal family appears on ceremonial occasions. The man's success in climbing the wall in front of the queen's main residence prompted fresh questions about the much-criticized and recently overhauled royal security operation.

"It's not good enough and we want to know how this happened," Metropolitan Police Commissioner John Stevens told BBC radio.

Two police officers in a cherry-picker crane removed Jason Hatch from the ledge 5 1/2 hours after he climbed up. His Batman mask removed and a white helmet placed on his head, he waved and clapped as the crane lowered him to the ground.

Hatch, 33, from Gloucester, is a member of the Fathers 4 Justice group, which is campaigning for greater custody rights for divorced or separated fathers and has staged a number of prominent stunts to promote their cause.

No member of the royal family was at the palace yesterday.