LEGAL CHALLENGE BY RESIDENTS OF THE FRED WIGG TOWER TO BE DETERMINED BY HIGH COURT JUDGE ON MONDAY 9 JULY 2012 AT THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE (THE STRAND) London
FROM 10:30 AM, COURT 19, MR JUSTICE HADDON-CAVE
Howe & Co solicitors, the lawyers acting for a resident association at the Fred Wigg Tower (FWT), Leytonstone, on top of which the MOD plans to site Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) High Velocity Missile (HVM) systems, will have their legal challenge considered by a High Court judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, on Monday 9 July 2012, from 10:30 am, in Court 19. They are seeking an injunction via a Judicial Review to prevent the MOD from using the FWT as a missile battery.
86 residents in the FWT, from 61 of the 108 occupied flats in the 15 storey tower block, have signed a petition opposing the deployment of missiles on the roof of their homes. The petition has been submitted to the court by Howe & Co to support the case.
The Defence Secretary has submitted papers to the court which state:-
“Following the on site evaluation and my review, officials entered into discussions with the landowners to secure rights to use and access sites. In respect of the FWT [Fred Wigg Tower], confidential discussions with the Chief Executive (and through him the leader and leading councillors) of the London Borough of Waltham Forest led them to agreeing to grant a lease [of the FWT roof], on 19 April.”
The residents of the FWT were only informed of the MOD’s plans, when letters and leaflets were dropped through their door on 27 April 2012 ie after Waltham Forest Council and the MOD had already agreed use of the roof of their homes as an explosive missile battery.
Martin Howe, the solicitor representing the residents at the Fred Wigg Tower, said:
“It is astonishing that a secret deal was done with democratically elected council leaders and council officials, for the MOD to use the roof of the Fred Wigg Tower as a missile battery and place explosives over the heads of men, women and children, without any form of consultation with them. The residents were handed a ‘done deal’ and effectively told to ‘like it or lump it’. If there had been a consultation from the outset, representations could have been made for the MOD to build a large firing tower or platform for the missiles, much like the “supersanger” towers used by the army in Northern Ireland, in the extensive fields behind the Fred Wigg Tower or for the MOD to agree to relocate worried and genuinely concerned residents and their young children elsewhere during the period of the missile deployment”
Earlier this week the MOD announced the finalisation of their plans, announcing that a legal challenge had been started by a few “activists”. The residents’ association bring the Judicial Review challenge represents 14 resident-members, and it has the backing of 86 residents within the FWT (excluding the many children of those residents) . Papers lodged with the court show the plan to deploy the missile systems was made at the highest levels of Government, including the Prime Minister, but the residents were not consulted.
Martin Howe, solicitor for the residents, said:-
“The residents of the Fred Wigg Tower recognise that there is a need to protect the Olympic Games, and none of them are saying that there should be no security for the Games. The MOD ‘spin’ teams have been working hard in recent announcements to describe the residents bringing this case, some of whom are ordinary mothers with young children, disabled and pensioner residents, as “activists” just because they do not wanting explosive missiles over their heads during the Olympic and Para Olympic Games. I am confident that the Court will protect the fundamental right of ordinary citizens, not to have the army literally take control of the roof over their heads, and force them to live under missile systems”
Mr Howe has further said:-
“In a highly unusual move the army has taken the unprecedented step of deploying surface to air missiles on top of a large residential block of flats in a densely populated built up area of London. It is incredible that the army thinks it acceptable for civilians to be placed effectively in a military forward base without their consent. It is like oil and water. Active military missile units and ordinary citizens do not mix”.
Residents have indicated that they will be attending the High Court to protest against the plans to deploy missiles in residential areas. Other residents from around London, and areas affected in the 5 other sites selected for missile batteries have also stated that they will come along to show their support for the residents of the FWT in Leytonstone.
Notes to Editors
1. The lawyers conducting the case will be available to for interviews before the hearing, outside the Royal Courts of Justice, to discuss the implications of the case with members of the press and media. Interviews need to be arranged by contacting the telephone numbers below.
2. Mr Justice Haddon-Cave conducted a review into the RAF Nimrod’s airworthiness, following the crash of a Nimrod over Afghanistan in 2006. His report was critical of the Ministry of Defence.