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Man held as Queen portrait defaced

A protester is being held by police on suspicion of defacing a portrait of the Queen in Westminster Abbey.

The man, believed to be a Fathers4Justice activist, is said to have attempted to write the word "help" in spray paint over the Ralph Heimans canvas, which was put on public display just last month.

The oil painting, entitled The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, has since been taken from public display as a result of the damage.

Fathers4Justice named the suspect as father-of-two Tim Haries from Doncaster, a "desperate dad" wanting to draw attention to the issue of shared parenting.

Officers were called to the Abbey after security guards detained a 41-year-old man. He was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and taken to a central London police station where he remains in custody, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said.

An Abbey spokesman said: "In an incident at lunchtime today, a visitor to the Abbey sprayed paint on the Ralph Heimans portrait of the Queen presently on display in the Chapter House. Until work can be done to remedy the damage it will, very regrettably, not be possible to have the painting on public view."

The portrait was designed to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and had only been on display in the Chapter House for a few weeks before it was vandalised with paint.

Fathers4Justice said the suspect was a "desperate dad" wanting to draw attention to the issue of shared parenting, and had attempted to write the word "help" on the portrait as part of a "Father's Day protest".

Campaign director Jolly Stanesby said it wasn't an official group protest, but added: "He (the suspect) has tried all other avenues. On the run-up to Father's Day (this Sunday) he decided nobody was willing to listen."

Mr Stanesby said campaigners had been invited to a meeting at the House of Commons earlier this week to discuss their plight with MPs, but only four parliamentarians turned up. Asked why the Queen's portrait was chosen, Mr Stanesby said: "She's head of the country - her badge is on every family court in this country."

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