"Batman" triggers security review

"Batman" triggers royal security review

By Jeremy Lovell




This article was previously published in Newsbox.msn.co.uk on September 14, 2004. It has recently been removed from the web site.





LONDON (Reuters) - The government has ordered an urgent security review at Buckingham Palace after a campaigner dressed as Batman evaded armed police and spent five hours on a ledge at the Queen's London residence.


Father's rights campaigner Jason Hatch used a portable ladder in broad daylight on Monday to scale the perimeter fence at the palace, dash across the parade ground and climb some 10 metres (30 feet) up the front wall.


It was the latest in a series of high profile security scares involving both the royal family and Prime Minister Tony Blair who has been a staunch ally in U.S. President George W. Bush's war on terror declared after September 11, 2001.


Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens, who has warned of an inevitable terror attack on Britain and told of several already thwarted, said he had ordered a report to be on his desk by Tuesday morning.


"There was a breach, and we have to look at how that took place," he said after the incident on Monday.


Stevens said his officers had quickly established that it was a stunt, otherwise Hatch would have been shot dead.


The group, which has already staged several stunts, says courts discriminate against fathers in divorce cases.


A companion dressed as his trusty sidekick Robin turned back when police threatened to shoot him as he climbed the ladder.


"I am ... clear that the alarm and camera systems installed over the last three years worked and that police acted correctly in assessing the threat he posed," Home Secretary David Blunkett told the House of Commons in a late night sitting.


"Nevertheless the speed with which the intruders were able to scale the wall is of concern, and the Metropolitan Police and my officials are urgently reviewing with the royal household any further measures required," he added.


The royal family is on holiday in Scotland, but the incident outraged security experts.


Magnus Ranstorp, a security and terrorism expert at St. Andrews University, told Reuters: "This is almost inexcusable, given the prominence and importance of the royal family.


"This is a part of continuous security breaches, despite the clear and present danger of terrorism we are facing."


The mass circulation Sun newspaper said in an editorial: "They've done the authorities a favour by pointing out how easy it is to break into the Queen's home at a time when security should be as tight as Batman's costume."




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