London 2012: Leytonstone residents oppose missiles

A Royal Air Force helicopter flying over the Olympic Stadium
Image caption The government plans to deploy the weapons on six sites in London

Residents of a council tower block in east London have challenged plans to install missiles on the building's roof during the Olympics.

Launching legal proceedings in the High Court, lawyers said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) failed to consult people in Fred Wigg Tower, Leytonstone.

Solicitors said that placing the missiles there would also breach the residents' human rights.

It was revealed the MoD plans to deploy missiles on six sites in London.

But the proposals are yet to be confirmed.

Previously, the sites identified as suitable for surface-to-air Rapier missiles include the Lexington Building in Tower Hamlets, Blackheath Common, Oxleas Wood in Eltham, William Girling Reservoir and Enfield and Barn Hill in Epping Forest.

Lawyers on behalf of the residents in the 117 flats claim placing missiles on the roof of the building will breach their right to family life and right to peaceful enjoyment of their homes under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Solicitor Martin Howe said: "It is incredible that the MoD think it acceptable to present women, children and men living in a block of flats in a densely populated residential area of east London with the fait accompli of having a live high-explosive missile salvo above their heads whilst they go about their daily chores and whilst they sleep at night.

"Security of the Olympics is, of course, extremely important but could the MoD not find any other way of protecting the Olympic village than by putting the lives of hundreds of innocent council tenants at risk by turning their homes into a military battlefield position?

"The MoD has had seven years to work out its security plans and it needs to rethink this issue swiftly."

The residents, including council tenants and leaseholders, are seeking an injunction to prevent the building being used as a site to place the surface-to-air missiles and want a court order seeking a lawful consultation process involving the residents.

The MoD said it could not comment on the legal action but said: "The safety of the London Games is paramount and, working alongside the police, the MoD has conducted a broad range of community engagement in those areas where ground-based air defence may be sited.

"This has included talks with local authorities, briefings and correspondence with local MPs, talking with community representatives and leaflets to residents in the areas in question.

"Open events have also been held enabling residents to view the equipment in question and speak to some of the personnel who would be operating it."

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