group of fathers' rights activists
in Palmerston North have staged a
raucous protest outside lawyers' homes
in response to the "anti-male
bias" of the Family Court.
The group of four
fathers, with family members in tow,
stopped to voice their complaints
outside the homes of two lawyers and
a child psychologist who does work
for the Family Court.
A siren blared,
fluorescent placards were waved and
pamphlets were dropped in letterboxes
as their message of disgust aired
over a loudspeaker.
on Saturday the barrage began outside
lawyer Fergus Steedman's home.
Mr Steedman was
not home at the time and the first
he knew of the protest was when told
yesterday by The Dominion Post.
Mr Steedman said
he now did little Family Court work.
he felt it was appropriate to be targeted
in this way, Mr Steedman said: "I
only have your word I was".
Holding a bright
pink sign that read "too many
lawyers use dirty tricks", organiser
Bruce Tichbon lambasted Family Court
lawyers for putting their income above
families' interests and called for
judges to be accountable and for fathers
to be treated as equal parents.
a genuine belief that fathers are
second-class parents so mothers normally
get custody of the children. There's
fighting over matrimonial property
and guys are prevented from seeing
their children for years. This industry
that profits from mothers and fathers
fighting does not have the incentive
to stop that happening," he said.
He also attacked
comments made by Principal Family
Court Judge Peter Boshier who called
activists "disgruntled fathers"
following protests outside judges'
homes and the High Court in Auckland
two weeks ago.
to ground and won't talk to the media.
He's trying to shut these protests
down with silence," Mr Tichbon
Mr Tichbon apologised
to the neighbours but said the protest
had to be done.
a hell of a lot to get Kiwi blokes
off their arse and on the street but
it's happening," he said.
At the second
address, the home of child psychotherapist
Kay Thomson, father Paul Robertson
said he was a victim of "parental
alienation" and that spinster
Ms Thomson knew nothing about having
Some passing cars
blew their horns and a woman taxi
driver pulled over to lend her support.
Mr Robertson, who arrived with his
leukaemia-afflicted mother, said he
had gone 14 years without seeing his
daughter since he and his wife separated.
broke up I lost it, breaking windows
in the house. But I've never hit anyone
in my life," he said.
with another young daughter, he had
successfully defended two protection
orders against him.
"I just want
my daughter to meet her grandmother
who is dying of leukaemia ... and
meet her half-sister," he said.
that the court had accepted a report
about him from Dr Thomson when she
had never even met him.
Dr Thomson said
she had no idea why she had been singled
out. As a child psychotherapist she
had done reports for the Family Court
but no longer did so. She found the
protest "a little upsetting".
Dr Thomson said
her evidence to the Family Court had
always been subject to cross-examination
and opposing counsels always had the
option of seeking another report.
While two of the
targets' addresses were in the phonebook,
Mr Steedman's required "a litte
bit of resourcefulness" to find,
Mr Robertson said.
At the third address,
the home of lawyer Tony Thackery,
neighbours closed their windows as
the horns and megaphones blared.
But one local
resident said: "They're obviously
really angry and if this helps them
deal with it, I don't mind the disturbance."