Residents lose missiles battle

Residents have lost their High Court battle to prevent surface-to-air missiles being stationed on the roof of a 17-storey residential tower block during the Olympics.

Tenants at the Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone, east London, fear the missile base above their heads could make them the focus for a terrorist attack.

But a judge ruled the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was legally entitled to decide there was "no credible threat" and the siting of the missiles was both "legitimate and proportionate" because of the "unprecedented" circumstances of the Games.

He rejected arguments that it would have been "proportionate" to put residents suffering from fear and anxiety in hotels for the duration of the games, or to require the MoD to build a gantry in open space to take the missiles.

Lawyers for the residents are considering whether to launch an emergency appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Their solicitor Martin Howe, of Howe & Co, said if the decision was allowed to stand the residents of the 108 flats currently occupied in the block would have "missiles on their roof by Friday".

Mr Howe's partner, David Enright, said the clear implication of the judgment was that "the MoD now has power to militarise the private homes of any person" even when there was no war on, or state of emergency declared.

He said: "We have always believed an Englishman's home is his castle - not a forward operating base. It is vital that Parliament look at this."

The Fred Wigg block is one of six sites in the capital where missiles, including rapier and high-velocity systems, will be deployed to protect Games venues. The missile system on top of the block will be manned by soldiers protected by armed police.

The judge ruled the residents' legal challenge was "unarguable in law and fact" and they had delayed too long in launching judicial review proceedings over the siting of the ground-based air defence system on their roof.