More than 3000 nights camped out under the London sky can't be good for one's health. Nor can the cigarettes, a presence almost as ubiquitous in Brian Haw's left hand as the megaphone through which he has spent a decade speaking truth to power - and the traffic circulating Parliament Square.

Now Haw, the protester and thorn in the side of the British establishment whose peace camp today celebrates its 10th anniversary, cannot speak at all. In September he flew to Germany for treatment for lung cancer. His camp deputy, Babs Tucker, says he is unconscious and in intensive care.

When Haw, a carpenter from Worcestershire, first went to Westminster, he was protesting against sanctions against Iraq. Then 52 and with a wife and seven children, he erected a sign opposite the Houses of Parliament.

"Stop killing our kids," it read. It was estimated that 200 Iraqi children a day were dying while medical supplies were being withheld, the result of a UN resolution.

When Haw rolled out his sleeping bag to bed down for the night, a police officer asked him how long he would be there.

"As long as it takes," he answered, though it hadn't occurred to him that it would be this long, and that he would become the leader of a peace campaign against a range of conflicts that were yet to begin.

Nearly 7000 coalition troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Estimates of civilian casualties in the two countries range from 150,000 to more than a million. Terrorists struck first in New York and Washington, then in Bali, Madrid, London, and Mumbai.

In this time, Haw and Tucker have been arrested more than 40 times, as authorities try to get rid of them.

But Tucker is adamant the protest will continue, even without its founder.

"You can move us on, but to where? You'd have to bury our bodies. Either you believe in democracy, or you don't. We are living it."

- Independent