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Fathers' activist fails to overturn conviction

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: December 11, 2008

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Jonathan "Jolly" Stanesby

A FATHERS' rights campaigner who launched a rooftop protest at the home of Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman has failed in his bid to have his conviction overturned.

Jonathan "Jolly" Stanesby, 43, of Manor Close, Ivybridge, South Devon, dressed as Superman and clambered onto the flat of the three-storey house in Herne Hill, South East London with fellow Fathers4Justice protester Mark Harris, 49, in June.

The pair draped a banner over the wall reading "Father's are for life, not just for conception" and demanded a meeting with the former Solicitor General.

Harris, of Elford Crescent, Plympton, told police he wanted the Leader of the Commons to read his book the about the injustice he felt fathers faced in the family courts.

Stanesby, who has a daughter, ignored repeated requests to come down from the roof on June 8.

He was convicted of "contravening a police direction" and harassment after a trial at City of Westminster Magistrates Court last month.

The qualified childminder, who did not come down until the next afternoon, was ordered to serve a two-month prison sentence, fined £250 and told to pay £500 in costs.

Harris was found guilty of harassment and handed a conditional discharge and told to pay £500 in costs.

Stanesby challenged his conviction for not following a police constable's orders on the grounds that he had been on the phone and had not heard what was being asked of him.

He told Southwark Crown Court he was not harassing the MP or her trade unionist husband Jack Dromey, 60, because they were not at home.

Stanesby told the court: "We had attempted to speak to Mrs Harman as a group and Mark had written to her and his daughters had written to her.

"She refused to talk to us. I had tried all the conventional methods to talk to somebody and none of them are interested."

Stanesby, who has been fighting for equal custody rights to his daughter since 2003, said he thought scaling the roof of the MPs property would "highlight the issue to the general public" and get rid of the "shroud of secrecy in family courts".

Rejecting Stanesby's appeal, Judge James Wadsworth said: "As a result of them being there and the police being called, something of a crowd gathered and eventually Mrs Harman and her husband left."

Stanesby also lost the appeal against his sentence and the judge also upheld an Asbo banning him from trespassing on private property.

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