Met Police defends handling of Sarah Everard vigil after high court challenge launched against force
The Metropolitan Police has defended its handling of a vigil for Sarah Everard, which happened while COVID restrictions were in place, after the organisers brought a legal challenge against the force.
Reclaim These Streets (RTS) proposed a socially distanced vigil for the 33-year-old, who was murdered by former Met officer Wayne Couzens, in Clapham, south London, in March last year.
Under the COVID-19 lockdown rules in England at the time of the planned vigil, people were largely required to stay at home and could only gather in larger groups for limited reasons, such as funerals or for education.
Police could break up illegal gatherings and issue fines of £10,000 to someone holding a gathering of more than 30 people.
The four women who founded RTS withdrew from organising the event, which was also intended as a protest about violence against women.
All of them say they faced fines of up to £10,000 each after the force told them it would be an illegal gathering under lockdown rules in place at the time.
A spontaneous vigil then took place on Clapham Common, for which the force came under criticism over its policing before being cleared by a police watchdog.
The force said in a statement: “Throughout the pandemic, officers worked to balance the need to safeguard the public at large from COVID, with the rights of individuals protected by the Human Rights Act 1998.
“Policing of public order events is highly complex and is one of the most scrutinised areas of law enforcement. We believe we are world leaders in this area.”