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London 2012: Would You Want Surface-To-Air Missiles On The Roof Of Your House?

The tenants of the 15-story Fred Wigg Tower housing complex in Leytonstone in East London have a bizarre and serious problem on their hands -- or actually on the roof of their residence.

The British Ministry of Defence, or MoD, in its zeal to protect the public from terrorist attacks during the Summer Olympics in London, want to station surface-to-air missiles on the Tower's roof.

Outraged by the presence of such a thing on their premises, the tenants at Fred Wigg filed a lawsuit to prevent the installation, citing, among other things, that they themselves would become the target of terrorists.

"It is the unprecedented siting of a military base or missile site in peace time on English soil that brings us to this court," complained the residents' attorney, Marc Willers, to the presiding judge.

"They have a fully justified fear that installation or deployment of the missile system on the roof of the Fred Wigg Tower gives rise to the additional risk that the tower itself may become the focus of a terrorist attack," Willers said of the residents. "That fear is not just genuine and legitimate but justified given the nature of the forthcoming occasion -- the Olympic Games -- and given the nature of the deployment and the current threat level, which is said to be substantial."

However, Britain's High Court ruled in favor of the government, meaning the missiles will stay on the roof. The judge in the case, Justice Haddon-Cave, agreed with the MoD that a tower block is a perfectly reasonable place to store missiles and that the tenants would neither be inconvenienced nor subject to any undue risks.

"The law and the facts militate against the claim for judicial review," the judge declared.

"In my judgment, the MoD's voluntary engagement with the community and residents in this matter were immaculate."

But Fred Wigg is only one of six tower blocks in the greater London area that will be graced with military equipment -- either Rapier or High Velocity missiles -- on their roofs during the summer games.

The other five sites are Lexington Building, Fairfield Road, Bow, Tower Hamlets; Blackheath Common, Blackheath, Lewisham/Greenwich; William Girling Reservoir, Lea Valley Reservoir Chain, Enfield; Oxleas Meadow, Shooters Hill, Greenwich/Woolwich; and Barn Hill, Netherhouse Farm, Epping Forest.
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 10, 2012
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