A WAREHAM photojournalist has scaled the Eiffel Tower without ropes before gasping crowds in protest at oil giant Total's operations in Burma.

Mike Robertson needed his 18 years of climbing experience as he staged the bold assault on Paris' most famous landmark.

The 45-year-old had to negotiate the 1,000ft structure's jutting overhangs while dodging police, darting into niches and even the lift shaft to escape being caught.

He said: "The climbing was quite easy except for the overhanging bits - one slip and that's it - but I tend to solo climb without a rope pretty much all the time."

Mike began campaigning after learning of the scale of human rights violations in Burma while planning a climbing trip there.

The country is ruled by a military junta with absolute power and its generals and the army stand accused of gross human rights abuses.

He sent a letter to the French company Total urging an end to its investment in Burma - but, unhappy with the reply - Mike decided to bring the fight to Total's doorstep.

He already had a trip to Paris planned, and took the last minute decision to scale the tower.

At the base of the tower, with a close eye on security, he and a friend fashioned a T-shirt with the logo "Total Leave Burma", then Mike made a dash and began the ascent.

Gathering crowds held their breath as the daring human rights campaigner tackled a near two-metre overhang at 90 metres.

Further up, as he clambered at speed over "suicide cages", he came face to face with astonished tourists ascending by the traditional route.

And at 280ft he was forced to use a flimsy piece of aluminium riveted to the iron structure to pull himself up over another overhang.

He added: "The crowds gave a fantastic reaction. There must have been a few hundred people there. I waved my arms down at them from about 650ft and they all screamed and shouted. It was amazing."

He added: "It was exciting. I wasn't sure what was going to happen at the end. I didn't know if I'd get a couple of weeks inside the nick."

He managed to dodge the authorities for far longer than he'd expected - but at around 750ft - three-quarters of the way up - they finally caught up with him.

Two firefighters and a member of Eiffel tower staff met him and he was led away in handcuffs without a struggle.

Surprised and relieved, Mike was released without charge after three hours of questioning.