It’s official: an Englishman’s home is no longer his castle.
In a move that is hardly witnessed in wartime, let alone in peacetime, the UK’s military establishment has been given the green light to quarter residential homes without any permission or notice.
In the run-up to the 2012 Olympics in London, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) has taken the unprecedented step of erecting surface-to-air missile batteries on top of multiple residential locations around East London.
A group of local council tenants from Leytonstone, East London, lost their high court battle to prevent the military missile encampment from being stationed on the roof of their tower block before and during the Olympics. The action to use their residential block as a military base was signed off by the British Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Defence Secretary in ‘Defence of the Realm’.
Residents were then also refused permission and blocked from applying for an appeal via judicial review because the case falls under the guise of national security.
The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, was accused by the residents of the block of Breaching Article 8 and Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the European convention on Human Rights. These protect an individual’s right to a private life and peaceful enjoyment of their home.
At no point beforehand were any of the residents given consultation by the MOD. Moreover, the ruling against the residents has set a number of new legal precedents in favour of the military, including a ‘zero notice’ policy whereby the MOD has no obligation to inform or consult residents beforehand, nor do they have any legal obligation to offer any compensation if they choose to commandeer a private property to set-up a forward operating base.
David Enright, a human rights lawyer and Partner of Howe and Co. who represented the residents, explains the danger of this new ruling, “Let’s be clear. Whenever the government (or military) takes a power over the civilian population – they never give it back.”