Asbo but no jail for Kelly egg-thrower

A fathers’ rights campaigner who smashed an egg over the head of cabinet minister Ruth Kelly has escaped jail but been handed community service and an Asbo.

Michael Downes, 44, was sentenced to 190 hours of unpaid work in the community when he appeared at Trafford magistrates court this afternoon.

The painter-decorator from Wythenshawe was also given an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) to stop his protests on behalf of campaign group Real Fathers for Justice.

The court had heard how Mr Downes, a father of three, had previously dressed up as Santa and Batman and climbed public buildings in order to publicise his group.

The five-year Asbo handed out today prohibits him from entering or remaining in public buildings, climbing any structures over one metre in height without permission or placing banners or posters on public structures.

However, outside court Mr Downes was defiant, ripping up his Asbo as he declared: “I think it stands for A Silly Bloody Order.”

He said he was proud of what he had done – as well as his attack on then education secretary Ms Kelly outside Salford magistrates court in February, the court also heard how he had “egged” Tony Blair’s car.

“I will still be fighting for the rights of fathers. Today I have escaped prison as a political prisoner for standing up against this feminist Labour government for the rights of children and their fathers to have a relationship with each other,” he said.

“This feminist Labour government sees fit for paedophiles to teach our children but not for fathers to see their children.”

Ms Kelly, who now heads the newly-created Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), was ready to take the witness stand last month but was no longer required after Mr Downes changed his plea to guilty at the last moment.

She was hit by the egg while leaving court to give evidence in another case, where a protestor from the campaign group Fathers 4 Justice had tried to handcuff himself to her.