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'Santa' Cuffs Himself to Buckingham Palace


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'Santa' Cuffs Himself to Buckingham Palace

By Associated Press

November 23, 2004, 1:33 PM EST

LONDON -- A British man dressed as Santa Claus scaled the main gate of Buckingham Palace and chained himself to the top of a pillar Tuesday before police pulled him down, the latest such costumed protest by a group campaigning for more rights for divorced or separated fathers.

The man, dressed in a red santa hat and cap and blue jeans, with a fake white beard, chained himself to a lamppost on the pillar and shouted slogans down at a crowd that gathered to watch.

Police cut him free after about 90 minutes and brought him down on a cherry-picker. He was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage and creating a public nuisance, Metropolitan Police said.

The campaign group Fathers 4 Justice identified the man as David Pyke, who has demonstrated before at the palace. In September, dressed as Batman's sidekick Robin, he accompanied fellow protester Jason Hatch to the royal residence. Hatch, who was dressed as Batman, climbed onto a palace balcony, where he remained for several hours, but Pyke was not as successful and was quickly removed.

"We've been planning to do something today on the day of the Queen's Speech because we want to see more attention given to family law," Hatch said Tuesday, referring to the speech laying out the government's legislative program.

The group is campaigning for greater rights for fathers in custody battles and other marriage and divorce issues. Other stunts by Fathers 4 Justice in recent months included sending a man dressed as Spiderman to scale the London Eye Ferris wheel and another to throw purple flour at Prime Minister Tony Blair in the House of Commons.

On Friday, a Fathers 4 Justice campaigner handcuffed himself to Minister for Children Margaret Hodge, trapping her for more than 30 minutes until police freed her.

Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press

newsday.com

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