I'll fight fathers' rights as elected MP

The Portsmouth News
Thursday 23rd September 2004

A desperate dad fighting to see his children intends to stand for election
as a Parliamentary candidate in Portsmouth North.

Fathers-4-Justice activist Paul Robinson is set to take on Labour's Sarah
McCarthy-Fry for the seat currently held by her party colleague Syd Rapson,
who is to retire.

He wants to stand as part of a Fathers-4-Justice plan to take on 200 strong
Labour seats up and down the country.

However, Mr Robinson, 44, of Eastern Avenue, Milton, Portsmouth, insists he
is not targeting the seat simply because of Ms McCarthy-Fry's well
publicised marriage break-up in 1997 when she left her husband for a then
fellow councillor, Tony McCarthy.

He said: 'I don't want to personalise this campaign, we simply want to try
to make our point with the government and take on Labour seats.'

Mr Robinson helped Batman protester Jason Hatch to scale Buckingham Palace
on Monday of last week.

He was among a crowd of supporters who created a distraction by shouting
slogans and climbing the fences of the royal palace.

The group said that it wants to force the government to bring in changes to
family law which would give equal access to fathers.

It will also target some Liberal Democrat seats, including Eastleigh, which
is currently held by David Chidgey, but due to be defended for the party by
MEP Chris Huhne.

Hampshire Fathers-4-Justice co-ordinator Phil Osgood said: 'We'll be looking
to challenge strong Labour seats.

'Of course, we don't know what's going to happen at the election but we want
to raise awareness of our cause.'

The campaign group has said it is to conduct a formal application process
nearer the time but that members are preparing for electoral battle.

Ms McCarthy-Fry said: 'I don't think they are targeting me personally.

'I am not surprised that there is likely to be a Fathers-4-Justice candidate
here, because I know one of the main activists is from Portsmouth.

'I am more interested in justice for children, although I know that some
fathers have a bad deal and I do sympathise.'


Activist faces charge over motorway stunt

The Portsmouth News
Wednesday 29th September 2004

A father battling to see his son is to appear in court after climbing onto a
motorway bridge in protest.

Paul Robinson, 44, of Eastern Avenue, Milton, Portsmouth, has been charged
with conspiring to create a danger by climbing onto the gantry above the
eastbound carriageway of the M4 and unfurling protest banners.

Dressed as Superman, he kept up the protest at Brentford, Ealing, for about
seven hours until he surrendered himself to police.

Mr Robinson's protest is driven by his desire to see more of his 13-year-old
son. His marriage to the boy's mother ended seven years ago.

He is among four men from the controversial fathers' rights group Fathers 4
Justice facing charges following a series of similar stunts in February.

The men will appear at Bow Street Magistrates' Court in London next month.

They believe their case will eventually be be heard before a jury at
Southwark Crown Court, possibly in the New Year.

Mr Robinson said: 'Conspiracy is our main concern. I'm not guilty of this
allegation. I'm a civil rights protestor and campaigner.

'My sole aim is to bring to the attention of the public of this country the
abuse that fathers suffer in the secret family courts.

'My protest was peaceful and I had no intention of causing any danger or
harm to any persons.

'I'd just like to be an equal parent to my son and stop being discriminated
against because I'm a father.'

Police seized computer equipment and paperwork from Paul Robinson's home
following the attention-grabbing stunts in February.

He was initially arrested on the grounds of being a potential danger to
motorists and held overnight at Charing Cross police station.

He was charged after answering bail six times.

The Fathers 4 Justice group says government statistics show more than half
of the 55,000 contact orders made for parents are broken each year, 40 per
cent of fathers lose contact with their children by the time they are two
years old and 100 children lose contact with either parent each day.

The most high-profile of the group's stunts happened last week when Jason
Hatch beat security at Buckingham Palace and climbed onto a ledge dressed as

Campaigner wants to stand for election to city seat

Paul Robinson intends to stand for election as a parliamentary candidate in
Portsmouth North.

The Fathers 4 Justice activist is set to take on Labour's Sarah McCarthy-Fry
for the seat currently held by her party colleague Syd Rapson.

The Labour stalwart is due to retire at the next election.

Mr Robinson has said he wants to stand as part of a Fathers 4 Justice plan
to contest 200 Labour seats across the country.


Have Batman & Co got it right on justice?

The Portsmouth News
Monday 4th October 2004

Fathers 4 Justice protesters are calling for dads to get better treatment in
child custody cases. But what are the facts affecting fathers in the legal
system? LISA SALMON investigates

Last week, the controversial group Fathers 4 Justice hit the headlines yet

Their candidate in the Hartlepool by-election was arrested after purple
flour was thrown over the runner-up, who as well as being the Liberal
Democrat candidate was also a family lawyer.

And this Thursday, members of the group are due to appear at Bow Street
Magistrates' Court in London to answer bail in connection with another
high-profile stunt.

Among them is prominent member Paul Robinson, 44, of Milton, Portsmouth, who
has been charged with conspiring to create a danger by climbing on to a
gantry above the M4 in February and unfurling protest banners.

Dressed as Superman, he kept up the protest for about seven hours until he
surrendered himself to police.

Last month Mr Robinson was among a crowd of supporters who shouted slogans
and demonstrated while Batman protester Jason Hatch climbed the wall of
Buckingham Palace.

He and his fellow campaigners say they are civil rights protesters in the
same tradition as the suffragettes who agitated for votes for women. They
want an overhaul of family law, insisting that all parents should have a
legal right to see their children after marriage break-ups.

But they have been criticised for over-the-top stunts that harm their cause.

So what exactly is the legal position of fathers in the present system?

In fact, there is no legal right for fathers to see their children - only
the right to apply to a court to get it.

But fathers' rights are exactly the same as those for mothers, says Louisa
Cross, spokeswoman for the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA).

'There are no separate rights for a father and a mother - that's simply not
in the law,' she says. 'It's the welfare of the child that's paramount.

'And it's not really about rights in court, it's about responsibilities.'

Around 90 per cent of custody cases are resolved by parents themselves,
without ever going to court.

In the 10 per cent of cases that do end up in court, mothers gain custody in
four out of five disputes. However, this is not because a father has fewer
rights, says Louisa, but because it's best for the child in each case.

'It's often cited that the courts are biased in favour of the mum.

'But the court is simply trying to give the child more stability. More often
than not, the primary carer is the mother, and staying with her maintains
the status quo for the child's wellbeing.'

However, when the mother has main custody of the child, fathers are often
granted contact by the courts.

Problems can arise when this right is denied by the mother, as it's
currently very hard for the courts to enforce. They are unlikely to jail the
mother for not letting the father see his child, as doing so would harm the

So the SFLA believes more flexible and, if necessary, tougher, sanctions
should be introduced if such orders are flouted.

A recent government green paper says judges will be given more power to
ensure such orders are respected.

However, to the disappointment of some fathers' campaigners, it doesn't
stipulate automatic 50/50 contact for parents, as Constitutional Affairs
Secretary Lord Falconer has stressed.

'Children cannot be divided like the furniture or the CD collection,' he has

'It's more complex than that.'

Louisa Cross says the SFLA agrees, but thinks the law can be changed in a
way that would help resolve more cases.

'It would really help if there was an expectation written into the law that
both parents carry on having a co-parenting role after separation,' she

Meanwhile, other observers are calling for attitudes of all concerned to

'It's the culture that needs changing, not the law,' says Jim Parton, of
Families Need Fathers, a charity for parents trying to maintain a
relationship with their child after a family breakdown.

'At the moment there's institutional sexism, and in the courts it's
adversarial, and the winner takes it all.

'But we're optimistic that things will change - people are starting to

'There's a widespread understanding that children need both their parents.'