By Tony Jones
Friday, 12 September 2003
Bob Geldof made an impassioned plea last night for fathers to be given equal access to their children when a marriage breaks down.
Speaking at the launch of a book examining the subject, the rock star and businessman said he had been "unfairly" treated by the judicial system when he separated from his wife, the late Paula Yates.
The couple had three daughters but Mr Geldof said that following the break-up he was told "how lucky I was to see them two hours a f****** week".
Geldof fought a bitter custody battle with Yates after she left him in 1995 for the Australian rock singer Michael Hutchence. The courts granted him full custody of Fifi Trixibelle, now 20, Peaches, 14, and Pixie, 13 in 1998, but it was something he never wanted or asked for, as the decision penalised his former wife. Yates died two years later.
The musician's comments came during an address to academics and family groups at the Nuffield Institute in central London during the launch of Children and Their Families; Contact, Rights & Welfare, a collection of academic articles to which he has contributed a chapter.
The book looks at how family relationships are sustained after divorce, adoption or when children are taken into care.
Geldof told the audience that in his article he argues that parents should get equal "50-50" access to their children, something which is practised in Denmark. He added: "That's all I wanted in my case. The judiciary finds it almost impossible to take on the notion I should be with my children 50 per cent of the time."
Speaking about the law governing a father's access to his children he added: "This law ridiculed me. Its implementor humiliated and belittled me and would not accept I was as capable of bringing up my children as a woman. I want to be recognised as the father of my children and I want to bring them up equal to their mother."