Stevenage fathers’ rights activist on why he halted Tooting by-election antics after news of MP Jo Cox’s murder

Bobby Smith put his fathers' rights campaign on hold out of respect for murdered MP Jo Cox

Bobby Smith put his fathers' rights campaign on hold out of respect for murdered MP Jo Cox - Credit: Archant

A fathers’ rights activist who stood in last week’s Tooting by-election and is known for his stunts to grab attention abandoned his plans out of respect for murdered MP Jo Cox.

New Fathers 4 Justice member Bobby Smith, from Stevenage, stood for the Give Me Back Elmo Party in the Tooting by-election a week ago – just hours after the Batley and Spen MP was killed.

Bobby, who only secured nine votes and came 13th out of 14 candidates, is known for using opportunities to get media attention to highlight problems he says fathers face in family courts.

But he said: “It was just a few hours after she died, so I put all my plans off completely. It wasn’t about Elmo or getting publicity for fathers’ rights that day. I didn’t want to do anything and didn’t dress as Elmo because I didn’t think it was appropriate. Normally at a count I try to do something to grab some attention, but I just didn’t want to do it.”

The 34-year-old is campaigning for a change to family law after he says he has been treated unfairly by the courts and denied proper access to his two young daughters, who he affectionately refers to as Elmo, since 2010. He stood against David Cameron for election in Witney last year and in the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP by-election last month.

But Bobby has said he will not stand in any by-election for the Batley and Spen seat. He said: “I’m not going to stand for her seat because it’s just not a time to use the opportunity to get publicity. I think her seat is going to be completely uncontested. I have to take opportunities, but not that opportunity.”

Bobby will appear in court tomorrow charged with an offence under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act after he and fellow campaigner Martin Matthews, from Surrey, scaled the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace in November.

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On Sunday – Father’s Day – Bobby joined a protest outside the Cheshire home of MP Edward Timpson, minister for children’s services, for what New Fathers 4 Justice say is ‘his failure to engage with deprived fathers during this emotional time’.