Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Lindis Percy (30 January 2002)

  The subject of the Defence Committee meeting to hear oral evidence on 30 January 2002 is extremely important and effects us all.

  I would have hoped that I could be invited to give oral evidence as a member of the public. As this is apparently not possible I would be most grateful if this written submission is accepted and brought to the attention of the Defence Committee.

  I am one of the Co-ordinators of the CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF AMERICAN BASES (CAAB). We work to bring public scrutiny and awareness to the roles and functions of the American Visiting Forces and their Agencies in the UK. What we have discovered after many years of campaigning is that the systems and structures which are in place to protect the citizen from abuse are seriously undermined by the presence of the American Visiting Forces and their Agencies. We have a website which will give members of the Defence Committee an idea of the aims and objectives of this campaign and the ways we work:

  In 1996 CAAB was the first campaign to find out about and bring into the public gaze the issue of the new and key role of NSA Menwith Hill (and later RAF Fylingdales) in the American Missile Defence system. We have worked ever since to raise issue as a matter of concern. CAAB is deeply opposed to this dangerous and crazy system.

  I also work as a health visitor in Bradford and have worked in the NHS all my working life—I am a trained nurse and midwife. I have therefore a fundamental interest in and concern about public health issues.

  As a member of the public who is and will be affected by any decisions made by the Defence Committee I ask that my deep concerns are taken into account with regard to the terms of reference for the inquiry. I am aware of the attendance of the Chief Constable of the Ministry of Defence Police Lloyd Clarke who will give oral evidence to the Committee. I confine my submissions to American bases in the UK.


    —  What changes in structures and methods for dealing with major terrorist incidents have already been made in response to 11 September and what further changes are necessary:

  I am well aware of the vulnerability and serious lapses in security before the terrible and horrific terrorist attack on 11 September last year. Since then `security' has obviously been increased with an increase in Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) and more patrols by the civil police around US bases. The stark fact is that these bases put all our security at risk particularly since the events of 11 September. I am very aware of the lapses in security particularly by the Ministry of Defence Police and would be very willing to share my knowledge. It is not possible to secure these bases.

  MDP are being "bussed" in on 12 hour shifts from all over the country. I have experience of this specifically at the American National Security Agency base at Menwith Hill North Yorkshire, RAF Fylingdales, USAF Lakenheath, Mildenhall and the Deep Space Tracking Centre and New Space Facility at Feltwell Norfolk. The cost for the services of the MDP is reimbursed by the US Government—recently David Blunkett sanctioned a further £1 million to cover the cost of increase patrols by North Yorkshire Police at Menwith Hill. It will be necessary therefore I believe to continue with this level (or more) of cost stretching into the future. . .

    —  Security of the defence estate and military bases.

  I have experienced over 20 years the `security' at US bases. My knowledge of this has been gathered through being on the bases without being noticed—my presence is to harm no one and I have peacefully walked for hours before anyone has been aware. The security lapses are of serious concern in my view.

  Since 11 September I am only too aware of the worrying lapses in security round and on American bases in the UK. I particularly would like to draw the Committee's attention to this.

    —  Possible new roles for the Reserve forces.

  I have no comment to make except to say that no matter how many reserve forces or other personnel are deployed this will not stop the determined person to gain access.

    —  Defence against air- and sea-borne attack.

  The possible use of nuclear, chemical or biological material on the ground is of great concern.

    —  Role of missile defence.

  I am extremely concerned at the stance taken by the UK Government concerning the stated intentions of the United States to go ahead with the Missile Defence system (in whatever form). It is quite clear that the UK Government has every intention in giving formal consent to the US Government for the use of Menwith Hill and Fylingdales. The UK Government's pretence that they have not been asked for such a use cannot be believed.

  1.  The stated intentions of the US are the `domination of space for American interests only— military and economic'—refer to Vision 20/20 and website: US SPACE COMMAND—

  2.  Space is for us all and not to be claimed by one nation.

  3.  The notice of intention to withdraw from the ABM Treaty 1972 is concerning in that this treaty has on the whole kept the strategic balance of power for many years.

  4.  The stated intentions by the US are upsetting China, Russia and other states.

  5.  The response by countries is to restart a nuclear arms race.

  6.  Missile Defence is extremely costly and is technically flawed (according to the respected and credible Union of Concerned Scientists in the US).

  7.  A Missile Defence System did not nor could prevent the terrible terrorists attacks.

  8.  The two bases that are key to the American Missile Defence are Menwith Hill and RAF Fylingdales—this makes us even more vulnerable to potential terrorist attack (according to George Lewis of the Union of Concerned Scientists who submitted a Statement in support of a legal action I took out in the High Court in October 1999 re the two Space Based Infra Red System—SBIRS radomes at Menwith Hill—"SBIRS is the clock that starts NMD"—as it was called then). Menwith Hill is the European Relay Ground Station for the Space Based Infra Red System.

  9.  To allow Menwith Hill and Fylingdales to be used when the benefits are solely for the US endangers us all. Far from enhancing the security of the UK the irony is that all our security is put at risk.

  10.  The UK Government has a duty to protect and defend the population of the UK—the crucial involvement of these two bases means that we are also implicated in any conflict generated from and by the dangerous and costly American Missile Defence plans. We are also at the brunt of any anti-American feeling or actions.

  11.  In a `special relationships' friends are able to tell each other if they are wrong—the UK Government should have the courage and vision to let the US Government know that AMD is not the way forward to enhance peace in the world and that therefore Menwith Hill and Fylingdales will not be used.

  12.  I urge the Defence Committee to reject any involvement and use of US bases in the UK for the American Missile Defence programme as being far too dangerous and costly for the future peace of the whole world.

    —  Protection of critical infrastructure.

  The presence of US bases in this country highlights the fact that as allies and supporters (at whatever cost) of the US, the UK becomes a focus for terrorist attack. No amount of `security' measures will prevent the determined and fanatical terrorist. Some of us would argue that we have to start to address the causes of conflict and look at alternative ways of settling conflict rather than building more and more deadly weaponry that in the end may destroy us all as more and more countries develop, test and deploy weapons of mass destruction. There has to be a move to return the American visiting forces to their own boundaries.

    —  Civial contingencies and emergency planning: prevention, response and recovery in emergency situations.

  I give one example of concern regarding the ability, knowledge and actions of the Ministry of Defence Police last week in response to an `anthrax' incident at USAF Lakenheath (there is a US nuclear weapons store there and it is the home of the 48th Fighter Wing).

  I was at USAF Lakenheath on Saturday, 25 January 2002. I was told by a Ministry of Defence Police Sergeant (Paul Rogers) that he was involved in an `emergency' and that he had `something' on his hands—he was not wearing gloves. He had however abandoned his involvement in the `emergency' to come and deal with myself which meant making physical contact (I was arrested at Lakenheath `to prevent a breach of the peace'—the details I will not go into—suffice to say that it was a spurious arrest and no action was taken by the custody officer and I was released). Sergeant Rogers said as a result of making contact with me that he may have `white powder' on his hands and that he would therefore have to take me to hospital.

  The officer seemed not to understand that his actions had potentially contaminated myself, the police car, other offices, the hospital and finally the Newmarket police station where I was to be taken. I had to insist that the MDP officers who escorted me to the police station alert them of the potential problem. I was told later that there was indeed an `anthrax' alert at the time.

  The final outcome of this potential serious situation was that apparently Sergeant Rogers had not been in the building that the Americans had sealed off and the base was later given the `all clear`.

  Several issues occurred to me:

  1.  It might not have been `all clear' and the emergency might have been for real. It must be treated as for `real' until proved not.

  2.  If Sergeant Rogers was trying to scare me to get me to leave that is very serious.

  3.  Sergeant Rogers said he might have something on his hands and yet was quite prepared to spread (no gloves worn) whatever might have been dangerous to all and sundry.

  4.  Sergeant Rogers was quite prepared to contaminate the hospital when he said he would have to take me to the hospital . . . etc etc etc

  5.  The officers do not have protective clothing to hand in any event of an incident involving dangerous contamination.

  I am dismayed at the lack of knowledge, apparent concern or knowing what to do by the Ministry of Defence Police. It is extremely concerning and an area where I would ask the Members of the Committee to realistically address. The implications for all are far reaching and concern issues of public health.

  Furthermore I ask that the public is made aware of any contingency plans in the event of a real or pretence alarm involving chemical, biological and chemical material.

    —  Role of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces in providing assistance to the civil powers.

  I have been worried for along time by the lack of accountability and control of the Ministry of Defence Police for many years. I am encouraged however by the proposed Police Reform Bill which has just been published and hope that this will bring higher standards of professionalism, knowledge of the law and jurisdiction and above all accountability to the MDP in line with the Home Office force.

  The recent extention for the jurisdiction of the MDP in the Anti-Terrorism Act 2001 is concerning as in my experience many of the MDP officers do not know what their jurisdiction was before and when asked now certainly do not know what it is now. I can foresee problems arising for example in `Liability of torts' (incidentally not included in the Police Reform Bill for the MDP) and also the Command and Control structures between the Home Officer force and the MDP.

  The fundamental difference between MDP working on US base and British bases is that the MDP working on US bases are paid for and under the operational control of the MDP Agency customer—the US Visiting Forces and their Agencies. The MDP have given away their authority to a visiting force which has serious implications for the British citizen. I have many experiences to support what I say and would be very willing to give evidence to the Committee at any stage.

    —  Government departments and other agencies with key responsibilities: respective roles and liaison between them.

  Whatever and whoever is involved I request that the Committee is open in sharing with the public some of who/what is involved.

    —  Emergency services and local authorities: roles and liaison.

  I do not want to be fobbed off as we were with the nonsense of the `Protect and Survive' information in the 1980s. I ask that there is a realistic enquiry into the implications of emergency planning with open and realistic information given to the public.

    —  Command and control structures for dealing with major incidents.

  A clear structure and plan is clearly very necessary with everyone involved knowing what it is and their responsibilities—it must be made clear that whoever is to respond to major incidents (presumably in terms of a terrorist attack, involvement of weapons of mass destruction etc etc) that they may be going into areas of contamination and the consequences of that.

    —  Training and exercises.

  I have no comment to make except that this must be realistic—eg contamination from nuclear, chemical and biological material—and training involving all members who will be expected to respond to such an emergency—police, ambulance, fire, hospitals etc etc—with realistic information about the chain and level of contamination from just one affected person.

    —  Informing the public.

  We have to and must be informed as to what we should expect so that we are protected.

    —  Commentary on relevant aspects of the new chapter of the Strategic Defence Review (SDR).

  I have no comment to make without any knowledge of what is planned except to say that we have to look at alternatives to setting conflict including destroying and decommissioning all weapons of mass destruction that we in the UK possess.

    —  Changes in legislation.

  Any necessary changes in legislation must not further undermine civil liberties.

  I sincerely ask that my written submission is taken seriously. I end with reminding the Members of the Defence Committee of their awesome responsibility in coming to any decisions concerning the Defence and Security of the UK—any decisions that are made on our behalf which will have lasting effects on the future and on the future of generations to come. We have got ourselves in a terrible mess and it is hard to see how we are to get out of it unless we start to look at alternative ways to order our society.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 24 July 2002