Breaking News: Met release statement after Sarah Everard vigil organisers lose court challenge   

Kevin Quinn (12 March, 2021)

Met says: 'In light of this ruling ... stay at home or find a lawful and safer way to express your views.'

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The organisers of a planned vigil for Sarah Everard in Clapham  lost their legal challenge against a police ban on the event, due to coronavirus restrictions.

 A High Court judge refused to intervene in the case after police had said the event could not go ahead, as it would be “unlawful”.

Organisers Reclaim These Streets say that by forcing them to cancel the vigil, the Met Police would be “silencing thousands of women”.

The event was planned after the disappearance Sarah Everard, whose body was formally identified  today, has sparked a national debate about women’s safety

Sarah Everard

A serving Met officer remains in custody having been held on suspicion of Ms Everard’s kidnap and murder.

Commander Catherine Roper, the Met’s lead for community engagement, this evening said: “Like everyone across London, I have been deeply saddened and shocked by the death of Sarah Everard. My heart goes out to her family, friends and everyone who had the joy to know her.

“No woman in London should be unsafe on London’s streets and I understand the strength of feeling that has grown following Sarah’s disappearance. As a woman and a police officer, I want nothing more than for women to feel safe and protected by the police.

“But we need to be clear. Our city is still in a battle with Covid-19 with people continuing to be infected and sadly losing their lives. Only a few weeks ago our NHS was at breaking point, we cannot risk undoing all the hard work to reduce the infection rate.

“Today’s ruling in the High Court has confirmed that the Metropolitan Police may conclude that attendance at a large gathering could be unlawful. In light of this ruling, our message to those who were looking to attend vigils in London this weekend, including at Clapham Common, is stay at home or find a lawful and safer way to express your views.

“I understand this ruling will be a disappointment to those hoping to express their strength of feeling, but I ask women and allies across London to find a safe alternative way to express their views.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have consistently enforced the Covid regulations and have made difficult decisions during a range of gatherings on issues about which people have felt very strongly. Our hope has always been that people stick to the Covid rules, taking enforcement action is always a last resort.

“We continue to speak with the organisers of the vigil in Clapham and other gatherings in across London in light of this judgement and will explain the rules and urge people to stay at home.

“We will have a number of officers on duty in communities throughout London during the course of this weekend.”

Contribute
Karen Bergman says:

Maybe a good thing to do would be something like putting in a green porch light or a green light in the windows to signify that we women are going to take our lives back and the green light means go for that. It could represent our solidarity and unity by using the same color light, and it would be noticed and last longer than a gathering would.

Sean Simpson says:

I came across this horrific story just today. Admittedly, I don’t have the full knowledge of every detail that has unfolded, but I do get a sense about this particular development. Because a police officer has been arrested for the kidnapping and murder of Ms. Everard, there’s something especially insidious about the police force seeking out such a definitive and absolute way of blocking a vigil from taking place in honour of Ms. Everard. Yes, Covid is real and should be taken seriously, but there’s something that feels like the police are not afraid or sorry to be taking advantage of this “convenient” situation to circle the wagons and prevent some public and high profile criticism.

Ruth Webb says:

There should be no vigil during this difficult time with covid. The organisers can arrange it when it is safe to do so. We cannot keep losing lives to covid.
What is more important is to make the world a safer place so that women and young girls can have the freedom to go about their daily lives without being groped, cat called, assaulted, raped or murdered.
Every single woman has had at least one of these violations against them. I have had many and so has my daughter. It will not stop but we can educate our sons and hopefully it will make a difference.

Tracy Green says:

I would normally 100% be in support of this vigil and my heart and thought go out to Sarah’s family but we are in the middle of a pandemic. This year over 120,00 people have lost their lives and thier families members have not been able to attend their funerals to say goodbye. The police may have handled it wrong but they should have never have had to attend in the first place. Politicians supporting this gathering are just playing there own game because other vigils and protests such as BLM were condemned. COVID is still real and these people are putting lives at risk There are other ways to show respect, mourn and have your voices heard

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