‘French Spiderman’ banned from climbing any UK building

PA

A stuntman dubbed the “French Spiderman” has been banned from climbing any building in the UK after scaling one of London’s tallest structures.

Alain Robert ascended the outside of Heron Tower in the City of London with no safety gear.

The 56-year-old reached the top of the 662ft (202m) building, now known as the Salesforce Tower, in around 45 minutes.

The father of three, who is a French national, pleaded guilty to causing a public nuisance when he appeared at City of London Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Alain Robert climbs Heron Tower
Alain Robert climbs Heron Tower

He was sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment suspended for two years, ordered to pay £5,500 compensation to the City of London Police and banned from climbing the outside of any building in the UK.

Chairman of the bench Edward McMullan said: “You are demonstrably an accomplished climber but there is always the danger that your actions could be imitated by those less proficient, with potentially fatal consequences.”

Prosecutor Malachy Pakenham described the incident as a “publicity stunt” and said Robert appeared to have been sponsored, as he was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a company logo.

He said the cost of the disruption to the building’s owner totalled thousands of pounds and it had also put a burden on the emergency services.

Police, fire and ambulance crews attended the scene at around 1.40pm on Thursday.

When Robert was arrested at the top of the tower by City of London Police on Thursday, he immediately handed officers his passport and the number of his lawyer, the court was told.

Officers set up a taped cordon stopping traffic around the building and ushered the growing crowd to move back and keep out of the road.

“Police were concerned about the climber’s safety and if he fell off the building, whether he could fall on persons below,” Mr Pakenham said.

Alain Robert climbs Heron Tower
Alain Robert climbs Heron Tower

Defence lawyer Adeela Khan said Robert, who has also tackled Dubai’s 2,717ft (828m) Burj Khalifa, had “no intention or foresight” of the disruption he could cause.

“He has been climbing for 44 years and is an extremely experienced climber, one of the best in the world,” she added.

“He has won awards for this sort of climbing – he perceived the risk of falling to be either non-existent or very minimal.”

She said it was not “just a publicity stunt” and that Robert “feels that he is seen as an inspiration”.

“The general reaction of the public was extremely positive,” she continued.

“There were lots of people outside taking photographs and watching the ascent, all the people watching it were inspired by Mr Robert’s action and felt it was something they enjoyed watching.”

She admitted that there “was some commercial motivation” and said there “was a particular T-shirt he was wearing”.

Robert was arrested and released without charge in 2009 after climbing the Lloyds building in London.