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Olympic Missiles: Residents Expected To Start Legal Bid Against MoD Plans

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A residents' group are expected to launch a legal challenge against proposals to station surface-to-air missiles on the roof of their tower block during the Olympics.

Defence officials are considering deploying the weapons across six sites in the capital if there is a security scare during the Games. The move is yet to be confirmed.

Solicitors acting for the local authority tenants said they are mounting a challenge against Ministry of Defence plans to potentially place the ground-based air defence system on top of the the Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone, east London.

Above: Blackheath Common is expected to house missiles over the course of London 2012

Journalist Brian Whelan, who challenged the MoD over plans to put missiles on the roof of his former building in East London said he "absolutely welcomes" the challenge. "At this point the MoD are coming under attack from very direction for their ill-conceived plot to force military equipment into private homes.

"In Blackheath locals have taken to the streets holding a march against the missile plan. Bow has seen packed out public meetings and a petition with over a thousand signatures was handed to the mod yesterday. This Saturday there will be a march for all tower hamlets residents oppose to this cynical attempt to use the Olympics, and our homes, to showcase their military hardware."

Howe and Co Solicitors said lawyers would be attending the High Court later on Thursday to issue proceedings on behalf of Harrow Community Support on the grounds that residents were not consulted about the plans.

Tenants also claim that no assessment was carried out under the Equality Act to comply with the Ministry of Defence's Public Sector Equality Duty and say the siting of missiles above their heads is a breach of their human rights.

The group is seeking an injunction to stop missiles being placed on the roof of the tower as well as a court order seeking a lawful consultation process involving the residents, Howe and Co said.

Martin Howe, senior partner at Howe and Co, 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 Lexington Building in Tower Hamlets, Blackheath Common and Oxleas Wood, both in south-east London, William Girling Reservoir in the Lea Valley reservoir chain in Enfield, and Barn Hill at Netherhouse Farm in Epping Forest have all been considered as other potential locations for ground-based air defence systems, if the Government decides to deploy them during the Games.