Raid left me fearing for life, says Mrs Prescott

Click to follow

In vehement testimony to Hull magistrates' court, Mrs Prescott accused Greenpeace of acting like a terrorist organisation in performing the stunt during the general election campaign.

The court heard that personal protection officers drew their weapons but put them back in their holsters when the intruders, wearing orange overalls and yellow hard hats, said they were Greenpeace activists, before scaling the walls of the Prescotts' house in Hull on 26 April.

The Deputy Prime Minister's wife was giving evidence at the start of the trial of eight environmental protesters accused of using threatening behaviour and ignoring a police order. All eight deny the charges.

At one point Mrs Prescott turned and addressed her comments directly to the defendants who were sitting in a row about 15ft away from her at the back of the court. She told them that her husband was a "great supporter of Greenpeace". She described how Mr Prescott once swam in the river Thames as part of a protest against nuclear dumping. Looking directly at the defendants, she said angrily: "So why should they target me like this, target me in this way, which is exactly what you did?"

Mrs Prescott said she was woken by a police officer on her intercom, saying people were on the roof and that she should lock herself in her bedroom. "I said: 'How is that possible? We have two armed police officers outside.' I said: 'Who are they? Are they terrorists? Are they going to come crashing through my windows?"'

Asked how she felt at this time, she said: "Absolutely terrified. In fear of my life, quite frankly."

The only other person in the large detached house, where the couple have lived for 28 years, was her husband's secretary, Della Georgeson. Mrs Prescott immediately went to Ms Georgeson's room, where she saw one of the protesters through a window, climbing a ladder. The two women then went back to Mrs Prescott's bedroom, where they stayed for about eight hours on the advice of the police.

The protesters climbed on to the two "turrets" on either side of the front of the building, known locally as Prescott's Castle. The court was told how, once there, the demonstrators erected solar-panel units and unfurled two banners reading: "Oi! Two Jags. Hit Targets, Not Voters."

Mr Prescott telephoned his wife and told her they were from Greenpeace. Mrs Prescott said she was calmed by his call, but she went downstairs only when she was assured by the police that she was "quite safe".

Mrs Prescott said: "I am a private person and what really did annoy me is these people knew my husband was on the campaign trail. They knew I was there on my own. That really was cowardly. Terribly intimidating. Dreadful."