A father's rights campaigner appeared in a British court Friday after being charged with allegedly defacing a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in London's Westminster Abbey.

Tim Haries, 41, is accused of smuggling a can of spray paint into the historic site around midday Thursday and defacing the recently installed artwork, painted by Australian Ralph Heimans.

Haries was arrested Thursday and charged with criminal damage of more than £5,000 (about $8,000 Cdn). On Friday, he was released on conditional bail until another hearing later this month.

Fathers 4 Justice, which campaigns for paternal parental rights and is critical of current British family law, confirmed that Haries was a member. The group said Thursday's act of vandalism — the painting of the word "help" on the large canvas of the monarch — was not an official Fathers 4 Justice protest.

The group has made headlines with high-profile stunts staged by supporters, who have stormed courthouses dressed as Father Christmas and climbed onto Buckingham Palace dressed as Batman.

Heimans' portrait, titled The Coronation Theatre: Portrait Of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, depicts the Queen in the abbey and was commissioned in 2012 to mark her 60 years on the throne.

It was installed in Westminster Abbey in May after having been displayed in Australia's National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.