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02 Aug 2004 15:48
Big Ben, the famous clock tower on Britain’s Houses of Parliament, could be surrounded by an electric fence as part of new security measures to shield it from terrorists and publicity-seeking protesters, a report said on Monday.
It is likely to be installed as an interim measure around part of the perimeter of the House of Commons to protect Big Ben, considered a trophy target for terrorists, the Times newspaper said.
House of Commons authorities have ordered security officials to examine the possibility of running an electric current through strengthened fencing, the report said.
“We will look in the shorter term at having better fencing and possibly electrifying it,” an unnamed Commons source was quoted as telling the paper.
“It would give you a nasty shock and [make you] jump off but would be at a height where if you fell off it wouldn’t kill you.”
In March, two protesters from the environmental group Greenpeace breached security and scaled Big Ben, unveiling an anti-Iraq war banner next to the clock face.
The incident caused acute embarrassment to police and parliamentary authorities.
Other measures under review include the possibility of diverting traffic away from Parliament as well as floating booms in the River Thames, adjoining the building, to guard against water-borne attacks.
A full review of security at the Houses of Parliament is expected to be delivered next month, the Times said.—Sapa-AFP
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