A High Court judge will rule on Tuesday whether residents can bring a legal action over plans to station surface-to-air missiles on the roof of a 17-storey residential tower block during the Olympics.
Council tenants at the Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone, east London, fear the missile base above their heads could trigger a terrorist attack, the judge was told at a hearing on Monday. But lawyers for Defence Secretary Philip Hammond dismissed their fears.
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, sitting at London's High Court, heard top Ministry of Defence officials, UK intelligence agencies and the Metropolitan Police had concluded there was no "credible threat".
The residents are applying for permission to seek judicial review on the grounds their human rights have been breached because they were not consulted fairly and properly over the proposals for the ground-based air defence system.
Marc Willers, representing the residents, conceded there was no hope of a full consultation process now but he said there was still time for those who were in fear to be relocated until the end of the Games.
Mr Willers said of the residents: "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."
Mr Willers said the Ministry of Defence (MoD), in suggesting the fear was unjustified, were "displaying an element of contempt for the concerns and views of the residents". He said the fear was not just genuine 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'."
Mr Willers said any attack might not be aimed at all the missile sites being set up in the area to protect the Games and might be no more than a bid "to make a statement - an evil statement, but a statement nevertheless".
David Forsdick, appearing on behalf of the Defence Secretary and MoD, said there was no statutory duty to consult, and the residents had no legitimate expectation that they would be consulted on issues involving the defence of the realm and national security.
He said the Defence Secretary was "the master of procedures" and entitled to conclude there was no alternative to the use of the Fred Wigg Tower, and he told the judge: "The MoD, intelligence agencies and the Metropolitan Police do not consider there is any credible threat to the Fred Wigg Tower from terrorism."