Residents lose battle over Olympics missiles


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The Independent Online

Residents have lost a High Court battle to prevent surface-to-air missiles being stationed on the roof of a tower block during the Olympics.

A judge ruled yesterday that residents at the Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone, pictured, east London, did not have an arguable case.

The tenants fear the missile base above their heads could make them the focus for a terrorist attack. The Ministry of Defence (MoD), security service and police say there is "no credible threat" and the siting of the missiles is both "legitimate and proportionate". The block is one of six sites in the capital where missiles, including Rapier and other systems, will be deployed to protect Games venues.

The Fred Wigg residents applied for permission to seek judicial review, protesting there has been a "disproportionate interference" with their human rights and they were not consulted fairly and properly over the siting of the ground-based air defence system. Their lawyers argued that those who wanted to move out should at least be relocated in hotels by the MoD for the duration of the Games, or a gantry should be erected away from the block to take the missile system. But their legal challenge was rejected by Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, sitting at London's High Court, who said: "The law and the facts militate against the claim for judicial review. In my judgment the MoD's voluntary engagement with the community and residents in this matter were immaculate." The judge said residents had expressed "shock, anxiety and worry" over the prospect of missiles being stationed at the tower.

But they had been under "something of a misapprehension" about the nature of the equipment to be deployed and the risks deployment would bring. Outside the Law Courts, the residents' solicitor Martin Howe, of Howe & Co, said: "We are very disappointed with the decision." He said he was now going to sit down with the residents "and explain that by this Friday missiles will be on their roof".

A decision would then be made on whether or not to ask the appeal court to hear the case.