Convoy bar justified by danger of terrorism, says Hoon

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of States for Defence, is backing the police's decision to bar the fuel protest convoy from London, insisting there was a "real threat" that it would be infiltrated by terrorists.

Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of States for Defence, is backing the police's decision to bar the fuel protest convoy from London, insisting there was a "real threat" that it would be infiltrated by terrorists.

Mr Hoon's comments yesterday came after warnings by security chiefs that they feared a "butcherous" act of terrorism - as devastating as Omagh - over the Christmas period. The fears have been heightened by revelations that a partly made 600lb bomb uncovered last month was a Real IRA device destined for central London in a horsebox.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, also supported the ban, saying that clogged roads would cause "real industrial and commercial damage to London at a time when we are under threat from fringe republican groups who could exploit that opportunity. Leave your lorry on the outskirts and we will let people march through London".

As the fuel protest peacefully followed a designated police route from Staffordshire to Warwickshire yesterday, aspokesman said: "Mr Hoon wants to come back down to reality. It's totally preposterous. We are peaceful people doing our peaceful, rightful protest."

The 20 hauliers and farmers set off shortly after 11.30am on the third day of their journey from the North-east, with a group of 10 car-drivers. The convoy travelled 57 miles along the M6 and M1 before pulling into a truck stop on the A5 near Rugby, where they remained determined to travel to central London to air their grievances tomorrow.

Another convoy is expected in Edinburgh tomorrow. Protesters were due to set offearly today from John o' Groats and Inverurie, near Aberdeen, to converge on Stirling for an overnight stop before heading to the capital.

Meanwhile the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, announced that spending on road improvement would double next year, from £267m to £525m, with £560m earmarked for 2002.

Comments