Letter: Eco-terrorism

Sir: I read with interest your article "Police unit to target green protesters" (7 November). Such a move is long overdue.

Clearly, as Assistant Commissioner Anthony Speed points out, plans are needed at a national level to deal with "demonstrators who climb into trees". Such violent and dangerous activities as protesting against roads, disrupting the activities of hunters, and opposition to animal experiments represent a real threat to our national security. Certainly it merits the establishment of this new group with special powers, and links to MI5 and Special Branch.

I myself have often read of the increasingly violent methods used by these eco warriors, such as waving placards, singing protest songs (tunelessly), hiding in tunnels, and, on more than one occasion, getting in the way.

I likewise applaud the decision to set up a costly national database to keep track of these terrorists, given that Mr Speed has cleverly deduced that quite often "the same people are involved ". May I suggest that he monitor in particular the activities of retired members of the population, schoolchildren, certain Members of Parliament, large swaths of the law- abiding middle and working classes, and any other malcontent who does not ride to hounds.

On a point of caution though, I see Commander Barry Moss, head of Special Branch, may lead the new unit. I would urge him on appointment to move quickly to quash any subversive suggestions that in the wake of the peace accord in Northern Ireland, Special Branch and other intelligence groups are simply casting around for a new home-grown terrorist threat to justify retaining current levels of staffing and spending. Clearly a preposterous notion.

KEN LIVINGSTONE

Lecturer in Security Management

Loughborough University

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