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  • Spiderman ends '£5m' crane protest
  • By Nicola Woolcock and Gregg Roughley
  • Telegraph News (UK)
  • 06/11/2003 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: admin ( 75 articles in 2003 )
David Chick is led away by police officers after ending his protest

A protester dressed as Spiderman who caused 40 miles of London traffic jams by staging a crane-top demonstration for fathers' rights came down from his 150ft perch yesterday into the arms of police.

David Chick, 36, was still wearing his Spiderman mask and leggings when he ended his six-day protest next to Tower Bridge.

He was charged last night with causing a public nuisance contrary to common law.

Crowds gathered and motorists beeped their horns as he slowly clambered down.

Dozens of officers held back other demonstrators, who applauded and shouted their support for Chick as he was taken from the construction site and placed in a police van to be interviewed at an east London police station.

He staged his sit-in because, he said, he had not seen his four-year-old daughter Lauryn for eight months.

His actions resulted in police closing arterial roads and Tower Bridge because of fears for drivers' safety if he fell.

The closures brought gridlock and disruption to parts of the capital and cost an estimated £5 million a day in policing and losses to industry.

Police responded to public pressure by reopening some of the roads on Tuesday night. Chick, who lives with his mother in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, was persuaded to abandon his demonstration after negotiations with police and the action group Fathers 4 Justice.

Taylor Woodrow, the owner of the crane, said the protest prevented 120 builders from working on a £45 million office development. The company would not rule out suing Chick for its financial loss.

A company spokesman said: "We're back to work but reviewing our options. We need to stop something like this from happening again."

Richard Barnes, the Metropolitan Police Authority's deputy chairman, said policing the protest had cost about £10,000 a day. "I would like him to receive the bill," he said. "If we can charge David Blaine we can charge him as well."

Matt O'Connor, the founder of Fathers 4 Justice, distanced the group from Chick's protest but did not condemn his actions.

"We can't control every angry dad who has been denied access to their children," he said. "We have got a massive problem here and it needs to be addressed by the government.

"It has taken guts to go up there and do that. We would not have done this ourselves but it has raised the level of debate about whether or not it is right that we create a nation of children growing up without fathers.

"We're pleased we helped to bring the protest to an end. We worked with the police and got him to agree not to go on the arm of the crane meaning roads could be reopened."

But Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, was critical of Chick's actions, saying on Tuesday: "He is amply demonstrating why women don't always feel they want their partners to have access to their children".

Chick split up with Joanna Gowens, Lauryn's mother, when the child was 10 months old. He has staged similar protests, but none has been so high-profile or caused such chaos. One rush hour tailback stretched for 10 miles.

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