London 2012: Olympic missile tenants in terrorist fear

A protester with a banner outside the Royal Courts of Justice Residents want an injunction preventing the siting of the missiles

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Council tenants have argued a plan to place surface-to-air missiles on their tower block during the Olympics could make them a terrorism target.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) rejected the claim, saying missile deployment as part of security measures for the Games was legitimate and proportionate.

Residents of Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone, east London, have applied for permission for a judicial review at the High Court.

A judgement is expected on Tuesday.

Top-level decision

The residents' barrister, Marc Willers, said their block could become the "focus of a terrorist attack" to make an "evil statement".

Mr Willers told Mr Justice Haddon-Cave: "It is the unprecedented siting of a military base or missile site in peace time on English soil that brings us to this court."

Of the residents, he said: "They have a fully justified fear that installation or deployment of the missile system on the roof of the Fred Wigg Tower gives rise to the additional risk that the tower itself may become the focus of a terrorist attack.

"That fear is not just genuine and legitimate but justified given the nature of the forthcoming occasion - the Olympic Games - and given the nature of the deployment and the current threat level, which is said to be substantial."

Mr Willers filed documents to the court calling for the residents to be moved out of their homes and compensated during the Olympics if the missiles are set up.

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

He suggested building a tower or gantry on Wanstead Flats to house the missiles.

Mr Willers also warned that part of the missile falls away when fired, claiming it could drop on to a passer-by or set a building on fire.

The MoD plans to deploy either Rapier or High Velocity missiles at six sites as part of security measures for the London Games.

David Forsdick, appearing on behalf of the MoD, said the decision over where to position the missiles was taken at the "highest levels after rigorous scrutiny".

He said it was signed off by the prime minister, deputy prime minister, home secretary and defence secretary in "defence of the realm".

He rejected the allegation that the block could become a focus of terrorism.

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David Forsdick - barrister for Defence Secretary - says 'no credible' terrorist threat to tower block and no risk of accident”

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He told the court: "The MoD, intelligence agencies and the Metropolitan Police do not consider there is any credible threat to the Fred Wigg Tower from terrorism."

He said that view was supported by a witness statement from Dr Campbell McCafferty, head of UK counter-terrorism at the MoD.

The judge hearing the application said the case was "urgent" and hopes to give a judgment on Tuesday.

Mr Willers said it was now probably too late for a full consultation process to be ordered.

The residents want an injunction preventing the siting of the missiles until their legal challenge is heard.

Rapier missile About 100 sites were considered as locations for ground missiles

The defence secretary is accused by the local residents' association of breaching Article 8 and Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

These protect an individual's right to a private life and peaceful enjoyment of their home.

But Mr Forsdick said the missile deployment was "legitimate and proportionate", and the MoD was not legally obliged to relocate residents or offer them compensation.

The missiles, including Rapier and High Velocity systems, will be in place from mid-July, the MoD confirmed last week.

The sites and types of systems set to be deployed are:

  • Lexington Building, Fairfield Road, Bow, Tower Hamlets - High Velocity Missiles
  • Fred Wigg Tower, Montague Road Estate, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest - High Velocity Missiles
  • Blackheath Common, Blackheath, Lewisham/Greenwich - Rapier missiles
  • William Girling Reservoir, Lea Valley Reservoir Chain, Enfield - Rapier missiles
  • Oxleas Meadow, Shooters Hill, Greenwich/Woolwich - Rapier missiles
  • Barn Hill, Netherhouse Farm, Epping Forest - Rapier missiles

Plans also include the use of the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, which will be moored on the River Thames.

Map showing the locations of the six sites that will have surface-to-air missiles Map showing the locations of the six sites that will have surface-to-air missiles

RAF Typhoon jets will be stationed at RAF Northolt, and Puma helicopters at a Territorial Army centre in Ilford, east London. The aircraft, which arrived back at the base on Monday, could be scrambled at short notice.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    I wouldn't like to be living in that tower block during a terrorist attack. Terrorism seems to have the ability to make tall buildings collapse spontaneously, for example on 9 / 11.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    How long will the powers that be leave it before deciding if the radio silent airliner is a terrorist threat and blow it and the two hundred passengers out the sky, or just having technical trouble and flying out of control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    The great British weather will terrorise the games, not some make believe imminent airborne attack.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    There is more chance of a mistake being made, and a good plane being shot down by mistake by these idiots who panic. Look at the ridiculous M6 closure caused by an electonic cigarette on a bus!!! Good job they didn't blow the bus up.
    What if a good plane loses radio contact - will these idiots blow it up?

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    285.Alba Al
    "The whole Olympics security is over the top. Good luck London with all those armed Met, MI5, MI6, army, navy,RAF, CIA,Mossad,etc"
    Its a wonder we have any military left to man all this security after the Secretary of Defence Fox and Hammond's reductions. Its a wonder they don't bring back the 'Home Guard - Dad's Army'?

    As Captain Mainwaring would say: 'You stupid boy(s)'


Comments 5 of 297


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