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Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Security review for defence bases
The barbed wire around Menwith Hill, with protesters in the background
Menwith Hill: Razor wire did not stop protesters
Security is being reviewed at the Menwith Hill defence site after it was invaded by Greenpeace activists twice in two days.

The government has confirmed it is checking arrangements at the North Yorkshire communications station, and various other sites including Fylingdales, a radar station 90 miles away.

It might be possible for serious intruders, with more serious design, to get into two very important and sensitive establishments

Former Labour minister Lord Chalfont
Junior defence minister Lord Bach praised police response to the breach.

But he told the House of Lords at Question Time that he was aware current arrangements were "not satisfactory in relation to this public order threat".

Lord Bach said: "Appropriate remedial action will be taken.

"We are looking at other possible bases and we do indeed take what happened seriously."

More than 100 protesters invaded Menwith Hill on Tuesday, but all but one had been removed by police by Wednesday morning.

But then a further 20 broke back through the fence, with two protesters managing to evade police until Wednesday evening.

Security will also be reviewed at Fylingdales
The environmental activists were protesting against the site's possible use in the planned American missile defence system "Son of Star Wars".

But they said the invasion raised issues about security at the site.

Former Labour minister Lord Chalfont (Ind) said it would be "wrong to suggest that these silly people of Greenpeace are themselves a security threat".

But he said the invasion "indicates that it might be possible for serious intruders, with more serious design, to get into two very important and sensitive establishments".

Lord Bach replied: "What happened was serious. But the people who did this were peaceable protesters whose aims were limited."

Tory ex-minister Lord Elton said some protesters had been in the compound for some time before security forces reacted.

The minister told him: "It was known that they were there. But the outer perimeter is not as secure as the inner one, for the reason that there are families living on the base inside the outer perimeters."

Lord Bach
Lord Bach: Protest was "serious"
The operation of Menwith Hill is shared between the RAF and the US military.

Former Defence Staff Chief Marshal of the RAF Lord Craig of Radley commented: "Should not those who protest by attacking the armed forces on their bases be reminded that their freedom and right to peaceful protest was won for them by the victories won by the armed forces in years gone by?"

Lord Avebury (Lib Dem) said that if construction works started at Menwith Hill were "in preparation for Star Wars II, prior authority should have been sought from Parliament".

Lord Bach said it was not government policy "to comment on specific security measures".

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See also:

22 Jun 01 | UK Politics
'Star wars threatens new arms race'
04 Jul 01 | UK
The Battle of Menwith
04 Jul 01 | UK
US spy base protest ends
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