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Epsom braced for possible threat from Fathers 4 Justice; EPSOM COUNTDOWN.

Byline: By Turia Tellwright

PROTEST group Fathers 4 Justice has promised to "apply pressure"as they see fit in the countdown to Father's Day on June 15, causing Epsom to tighten its security operation in case of a high-profile protest at this weekend's Derby meeting.

Managing director Nick Blofeld, who will be overseeing his first Derby this year, had been quoted in an interview in Thoroughbred Owner Breeder as saying that the threat of terrorism, and the thought that it might affect the Derby, scared him.

However, yesterday he said that, although the course was "conscious" of possible terrorist threats, an ambush from the fathers' rights group was a more realistic concern.

Blofeld said that the racecourse would be working in close partnership with the police to ensure that maximum security is in operation over the two-day meeting.

"Obviously, you must be conscious of the prospect of threats," he said. "But we have a comprehensive security operation in place, the details of which are pretty confidential.

"The extent of the security over these two days calls for a massive operation, and we work in close partnership with the police. In total it involves many hundreds of security officers, including both the police and our own stewards."

Fathers 4 Justice has previously made national headlines for stunts such as hurling flour at Tony Blair in the House of Commons and scaling Buckingham Palace dressed as superheroes, in its campaign for equal rights for fathers.

Blofeld said that the prospect of Spiderman traversing one of the course's new constructions has been considered by the Epsom security team.

"I think that a more realistic threat would be a demonstration from the roof of the new building by the Fathers 4 Justice group," he said. "Consequently we will be employing four or five people at its base to ensure that this does not happen."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 4, 2008
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