Social campaigner Tim Haries has been found guilty of defacing the portrait of the Queen that was hung in Westminster Abbey.
The 42-year-old from Doncaster is a campaigner for Fathers4Justice, an organisation that champions the cause of equal parenting and contact for divorced parents with children. In June 2013, he was accused of spraying the word “Help” on the portrait with a can of purple spray paint that he had smuggled into the Abbey.
After appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where he was charged with criminal damage of more than £5,000, Mr. Haries was tried at Southwark Crown Court, but the case was adjourned till January. On Wednesday 8th of January the case was reopened.
Mr. Haries chose to represent himself in court. He told jurors that he had “nothing against the Queen”, and that he committed the act to “highlight the social justice issue of our time.” Photographs of the incident later appeared on the Fathers4Justice Facebook page, where they received support from many online users.
However, Haries was found guilty of vandalism and convicted. He has been granted conditional bail until the 5th of February, after which he will receive his sentence.
The portrait in question, called “The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait Of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”, is the work of Australian-born artist Ralph Heimans and cost £160,000. It measures 9×11 feet, and depicts Her Majesty in the Sacrarium, the site of her coronation in 1953, dressed in State Dress and wearing the velvet Robe of State, also from her coronation.
After initially being displayed in Australia, it was acquired by Westminster Abbey as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and was available for public viewing in the Chapter House at the Abbey. After sustaining the damage, it will cost approximately £7,300 to restore.