Saturday, 20 May 2006

Lottery show delayed by protest

The BBC's National Lottery show was briefly delayed on Saturday evening after protesters invaded the studio and chanted slogans.

Presenter Eamonn Holmes was led from the stage as Fathers 4 Justice members made their way on to the set.

The National Lottery: Jet Set was delayed for several minutes before the draw for the £17m jackpot was resumed.

Campaign group Fathers 4 Justice said the evening marked the "dramatic return" of the protest group.

The group appeared to have disbanded in January after some of its members were accused of allegedly plotting to kidnap Prime Minister Tony Blair's youngest son, Leo.

You've a lot of very shaken, disturbed people, both watching at home and in the studio
Eamonn Holmes

Guy Harrison, a spokesman for the paternal rights group, said it was the group's duty to warn parents about family law.

Mr Harrison added: "The lottery is a metaphor for what can happen to any parent, mother or father, and their children, at the hands of the secret family courts."
Afterwards presenter Holmes said it had been a "scary moment".

Alan Dedicoat, the so-called voice of the National Lottery balls, told the BBC: "We just had a kerfuffle. What appeared to be fireworks or something going off in the studio.

"The cameras moved to one side. Eamonn was pushed to one side at one stage I think."
He added: "And the next minute we had to put a caption up and I was left talking to millions and millions of viewers trying to explain what was going on without necessarily being able to see all of it myself."

Later, Holmes said the protesters had been "well-orchestrated".

He said: "About six protesters ran out of the audience, very well positioned, very well orchestrated, they knew exactly the positions to be in and they tried to, well, I think, destroy the lottery machines.

"Fathers 4 Justice was the campaign and, you know, I think for the audience a very scary moment, whatever empathy or sympathy many people may have with Fathers 4 Justice, again, you've a lot of very shaken, disturbed people, both watching at home and in the studio."

Jolly Stanesby, right, a member of protest group Fathers 4 Justice (F4J), said a move to open up family courts to the Press would make them more 'accountable'.

Mr Stanesby, one of six campaigners who stormed the set of the televised National Lottery draw in May, said F4J protests had persuaded the Government to propose the change.

But he warned F4J would be planning more high-profile protests until members of the public were allowed to sit in on court proceedings.

Mr Stanesby said: "It's a great start and it's obvious that some of our hard work is paying off. The system is corrupt, but this should make the courts a little more accountable.

"The campaign will continue, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. None of this would have happened had we not been doing what we've been doing."

About 400,000 cases are heard in family courts every year, but currently almost all take place in private to protect those involved.

Mr Stanesby added that F4J was planning a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience, to be called 'I-Witness', to further its cause.

He said: "We are having a meeting next week to move things on.

"What we're thinking of doing is sitting in courts and waiting for them to throw us out."