Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Campaigner denies defacing Queen

The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2012, by Ralph Heimans (Ralph Heimans/Colin White/Max C/PA)

A Fathers4Justice campaigner has denied defacing a portrait of the Queen displayed in Westminster Abbey.

Tim Haries, 42, is alleged to have smuggled a can of spray paint into the abbey on June 13 before defacing the picture.

Appearing at London's Southwark Crown Court, he pleaded not guilty to a charge of causing criminal damage of more than £5,000.

Haries, an electrician of Bellis Avenue, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, was given conditional bail to return to the court for trial on January 6. The case is expected to last for between one and two days.

The painting, by Australian-born artist Ralph Heimans, had been on display in the abbey's Chapter House for only a few weeks before it was vandalised with paint. It was unveiled in London last year for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The oil on canvas, which measures 9ft by 11ft and depicts the Queen in the cacrarium of Westminster Abbey, also known as the Coronation Theatre, is valued at around £160,000. It shows her in a moment of solitary reflection, standing at the centre circle of the Cosmati pavement, on the exact spot where she was crowned.

Immediately after the damage was done, a picture was taken and the image was uploaded to the internet.

Haries allegedly shouted "Fathers4Justice!" when he was arrested.

The artwork had to be removed from public display for repairs before going back on show in July.

Haries was supported by a number of Fathers4Justice campaigners of both sexes in the public gallery - many of them wearing purple - although the group said the act at Westminster Abbey was not an official protest.

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