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)'

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    I find it rather ironic that "The MoD, intelligence agencies and the Metropolitan Police do not consider there is any credible threat to the Fred Wigg Tower from terrorism."

    This WOULD have been the case if everything had remained quiet.
    Now this block is a beacon for terrorists to gain much publicity, and show the establishment who rules.

    Putting your head over the parapet is asking to get shot

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    273. krokodil

    >>>So how the hell did they afford this high powered legal challenge?
    No win no fee? Or is poor old taxpayer coughing up for it?

    Nah, it will be an AmbulanceChasers4U type of arrangement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    What a lot of mugs on here are using this forum to rage against council tenants! As if that's got anything to do with any serious discussion .... Mugs who have swallowed the government propaganda hook-line-and-sinker. In a double dip recession they are double mugs too because they pay the taxes, not to finance feckless 'scroungers'
    but beings who dump on them from a great height!

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.


    Wouldnt bother me at all, I would of been in far more danager in the past

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    I think I might get legal aid to argue that the Olympics should be cancelled on safety grounds I just don't feel safe, all these weapons, missiles and guns everywhere. A terrorist attack would only make matters worse, and it can only happen because these games are on...............I must have a case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    I think that all the anti-aircraft missiles should be sited on top of the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    Marc Willers, Barrister for the residents, won the 'Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award 2011', and is also well known for his work representing squatters of residential properties. That probably says all you need to know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    Its very interesting how this debate has brought out some peoples petty and ignorant prejudices. Its this sort of attitude that was probably in the mind of the person who decided where these missiles were going. "Its only council tenants, what do they matter"
    The whole Olympics security is over the top. Good luck London with all those armed Met, MI5, MI6, army, navy,RAF, CIA,Mossad,etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    There's a 50/50 chance the Police will kill a terrorist, who will turn out not to be a terrorist, but no one will be responsible for killing them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    I could just imagine the army installing a missile battery on Nelson Mandella House in Peckham and Del & Rodney flogging it as a new superdoopa Sky HD dish.

    As Del would say 'Well its not Rocket Surgery is it'

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    stevio , do you think Council tenants are a separate species? Blacks, gays and women are also council tenants. it seems that the working class are the only social group that it is OK to abuse and discriminate against in this country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    272.Tio Terry

    AWACS is for surveillance only, regardles if it was a Typhoon or a SAM you would still get casualties but wouldnt be near where the SAM site are.
    End of the day the MOD wouldnt just plant them on top of a civilian building without a good cause, and it would be senior officers who would decide, maybe they seen a vunrable spot and need them in certain locations to cover it

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    Just being hypothetical, but the short-sighted, tinypicture, no-horizon ones amongst us assume it will just be Muslim terrorists who present a threat. The chance that there is some Eric Robert Rudolph, Tim McVeigh or Breivik being up to no good is just as feasible. What do the council estate-bashing "patriots" think about that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    12 Minutes ago
    Soooo.... armed personnel & Surface-to-Air missiles stationed on your doorstep then.... Tell me again how you fear for your safety!?
    Yeah and you will probably be able to apply for a council tax rebate for the duration :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    The word "Terrorism" is itself designed to frighten ordinary people.

    Now we have the elite running around like headless chickens.

    The problem with terrorism is that ANY defences that may be put in place can be circumvented.

    It (terrorism) is often quite base and does not need a lot of expenditure or thought.

    Terrorism usually has a reason and without appeasement it is this should be addressed


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