HOURS of protests in the pouring rain on the streets of London by a Warboys mother were rewarded last week. Maureen Alden, fighting to free her imprisoned son from a Brazilian cell, received an emotional embrace from the first lady of the South American n

The wristbands produced to support the campaign

HOURS of protests in the pouring rain on the streets of London by a Warboys mother were rewarded last week.

Maureen Alden, fighting to free her imprisoned son from a Brazilian cell, received an emotional embrace from the first lady of the South American nation.

During a state visit to the UK last Wednesday, the wife of the President of Brazil crossed the street to hug the mother of jailed Craig Alden and tell her that, as a woman and mother, she understood her pain.

The unexpected and very public gesture was gratefully received by Mrs Alden, who is fighting for her son's release from a 12-year jail sentence for child abuse.

Mrs Alden told The Hunts Post of supporters' reactions to the breakthrough: "There was a stunned silence around me. You are always full of hope for an acknowledgement, but I was not expecting something so public and emotional. I was chuffed to bits and it can only do us good."

Speaking through a translator, Marisa Lula da Silva promised to visit Craig in jail and said her husband, the President, would choose one of their official photographs to send Craig as proof of their meeting.

Although Mrs Alden is keeping the meeting in perspective, she hopes the momentum will keep her son's case in the spotlight.

"I'm quite well aware that she has no political power and it may well have been just a gesture, but as it was such a public gesture I feel it may well push things forward a bit and give the British Government something else to work with."

The Warboys mother told her son of developments during a phone conversation last Wednesday evening.

"He was quite stoical in his response," she said. "So many things have happened, bad and good, that it is easy not to get too excited about things."

The meeting of the two women was the culmination of two days' protests in the capital by the Free Craig Alden campaign. On Tuesday, more than 150 demonstrators turned out opposite Horse Guards' Parade to make their voices heard before President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was officially greeted by the Queen.

Mrs Alden said: "As the car pulled up, he did a small half-take at us because we had so many Brazilian flags out. He might have felt at first it was a welcoming committee, but with all the shouting and chanting, I think he realised the reason for our presence quite quickly."

The following day, only a small group of demonstrators were allowed by police to gather outside the Brazilian ambassador's residence, where President Lula and his wife were guests for lunch. Mrs Alden and her supporters were not ignored by embassy staff though.

"We made an awful lot of noise and they brought coffee out for us which was a very nice gesture. After seeing the President arrive, we hung on and on, shouting ourselves hoarse.

"When he came out again and was about to leave, one of our Brazilian speakers shouted 'President Lula, please show compassion, I have Craig Alden's mother here'.

"He acknowledged me across the cavalcade of cars - gave me a wave and indicated to me that somebody was coming round to speak to me. His wife came over with an interpreter and the official state visit photographer. She hugged me and said as a woman, and a mother, she felt my pain.

"Then she asked if she could speak with Craig and I said I'd be delighted. She added that her husband would choose one of the official photographs of our meeting and send it to Craig."

Mr Alden was jailed in 2002, accused of abusing the boys in the orphanage he founded in 1991. He was sentenced to 48 years but this was reduced to 12. He has always claimed his innocence and his supporters say no defence case was put because his lawyers missed the deadline to present their evidence.