Meet The Bomb-Disposal Expert Who Wants To Save Rochester And Strood For His 7 Cats

Wheelbarrow bomb disposal robot.Wiki CommonsThe ‘wheelbarrow’ bomb-disposal robot in action.

Mike Barker was awarded an MBE in 1972 for developing the “wheelbarrow” bomb disposal robot used by the Army bomb squad. Now he’s running as an independent candidate in the Rochester & Strood by-election in order, he says, to save the southeast of England … and his seven cats.

In his campaign leaflet, Barker describes himself as “the world’s leading scientist in bomb disposal of all kinds.” He warns that unexploded munitions in the wreckage of the SS Richard Montgomery, a cargo ship which grounded and broke up in Sheerness, Kent, in 1944 with 1,400 tonnes of explosives on board, are an imminent threat that could “kill us all” in the southeast of England (and possibly millions in France, too, “depending on wind direction”).

He calls on his campaigners to “drag your families, friends, neighbours, and passers-by in the street, screaming to the voting booths to see me on world digital TV clearing the wreck in real time.”

And it continues on the reverse:

Barker has a long history of campaigning to raise awareness of the risks posed by the ship’s ordnance, despite the insistence of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) that the wreck is safely managed and that the chance of an explosion is remote. In 2007, the head of the Shipping Policy Division at the Department of Transport attempted to allay his concerns in a letter responding to his “numerous letters, emails, and telephone calls to the Department.”

SS Richard MontgomeryWiki CommonsThe SS Richard Montgomery.

His e-petition offering to clear the wreck, which gathered just one signature, has been officially rejected because he references his MBE, breaching a rule prohibiting “information about honours or appointments.”

However, he has also hit the local (and national) news for the wrong reasons in recent years. In 2008 Barker was given a two-year suspended sentence after being found guilty of making threats to kill two senior police officers and a magistrate. The case, which made it onto the BBC website, was described as “utterly bizarre” by the judge, who decided against a jail term for the then 67-year-old owing to his “
very good work in the bomb disposal area.”

His respite was short lived. By 2010 Barker was in trouble again, this time for failure to pay over £3,000 in Council Tax to to Sevenoaks District Council as a protest against the British legal system. He spent three weeks in Elmley Prison, in Sheerness and described the experience as “like a holiday in Her Majesty’s Hotel.”

Following his release he pledged to continue his protest “until we change the legal system.”

A Facebook page purportedly belonging to Barker lists his favourite bands as Fleetwood Mac, Elvis, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder, and his favourite movie as George Galloway’s feature “The Killing of Tony Blair.”

He also has a Youtube channel:

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