A Fathers4Justice campaigner from Yorkshire has gone on hunger strike in protest at being sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for defacing a portrait of the Queen with paint in Westminster Abbey.
Tim Haries, who told jurors he vandalised the picture to highlight the ‘’social justice issue of our time’’, had denied a charge of causing criminal damage of more than £5,000 but was found guilty at London’s Southwark Crown Court last month.
Haries had about 20 supporters in court for the hearing and there were shouts directed towards the judicial bench at the end of “disgusting”, “shame on you” and “Fathers4Justice”.
They later said the judge had ignored a probation report calling for a community sentence order and that the sentence was “politically motivated” leaving Haries with no choice but to begin a hunger strike.
The father-of-two smuggled a can of purple spray paint into the Abbey on June 13 last year before writing the word ‘’help’’ on the painting, which is worth £160,000.
Recorder of Westminster Judge Alistair McCreath told him: “This was a deliberate and planned causing of damage to a valuable item of property on public display, carried out as a publicity exercise.”
He said the sentence must have regard to the case’s aggravating features and to a degree deter others.
Jurors heard how Haries shouted ‘’fathers for justice’’ as he scrawled the graffiti on the painting before being tackled to the ground by steward Peter Crook.
He told Mr Crook: ‘’Sorry mate, I’ve got nothing against the Queen,’’ before telling a police officer who arrived at the scene that he was ‘’guilty as charged’’.
Photographs of the incident were posted on a Fathers4Justice Facebook page.
Haries, 42, decided to represent himself towards the end of his trial and directly addressed jurors, telling them he carried out the act as a protest against the ‘’social catastrophe’’ of fathers not being allowed access to their children.
He said that, while he had nothing against the Queen personally, he targeted her portrait because she was head of the justice system.
Haries, of Bellis Avenue, Doncaster, later said he “would not hesitate to petition the Queen again by peaceful protest on behalf of my children and the millions of children separated from their fathers”.
The court heard it cost £9,204 to repair the painting.