Unrepentant Metropolitan Police officers justified their heavy-handed crackdown at a Clapham Widespread vigil held for Sarah Everard by claiming that the gathering was morphing into an ‘anti-police protest’, it has emerged.
Scotland Yard is prosecuting six folks they declare broke Covid lockdown guidelines at the vigil on March 13 final yr, when a whole bunch assembled at the bandstand within the South London park following Miss Everard’s kidnapping, rape and homicide by ‘evil’ Met cop Wayne Couzens.
The occasion had initially been organised by Reclaim These Streets, who cancelled it after the Met mentioned it shouldn’t go forward, and no definitive reply on the matter was offered by the Excessive Courtroom.
However folks turned up all through the day, and officers didn’t intervene for the primary six hours whereas many got here to put flowers, with the Duchess of Cambridge additionally paying her respects.
It has now emerged that police have defended their broadly condemned actions, saying that they confronted resistance once they tried to interrupt up the gathering utilizing draconian Covid powers.
Witness statements given in Westminster Magistrates’ Courtroom reveal that the Met officers feared being attacked by the attendees and had been apparently branded ‘murderers’ by some within the crowd.
Based on PC Alexander Davis: ‘The temper of the group had additionally shifted from displaying respect to Sarah Everard to anti-police protest. Over the course of the early night the group dimension of the vigil elevated to the 1000 robust members and it shortly grew to become an anti-police demonstration.’
A lady being arrested at a vigil for Sarah Everard in Clapham Widespread, March 13, 2021
Left, Sarah Everard. Proper, former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick
The Commonplace reviews that he mentioned Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist gave the order at round 7pm for the crackdown to start, together with arrests of ladies who had been standing by the bandstand.
PC Darryl Mayne mentioned in a witness assertion that attendees shouted ‘go away’, ‘murderers’ and ‘arrest your personal’ because the scene turned bitter.
And in his assertion to the court docket, Inspector Dave Laurie mentioned: ‘I bear in mind feeling unhappy that what began out as a vigil with folks adhering to the coronavirus rules had modified considerably and that I wasn’t satisfied folks had been there to solely pay their respects in remembrance of Sarah Everard, and that they didn’t intend to depart the world any time quickly.’
Wayne Couzens was given a complete life sentence at the Outdated Bailey in September after admitting Sarah Everard’s homicide
MailOnline has contacted Scotland Yard for remark.
Campaigners have voiced their fury after it was revealed that 4 of the six instances will probably be heard in secret below the Single Justice Process, a paper-based course of not held in open court docket.
Dania Al-Obeid, 27, from Stratford, east London, Vivien Hohmann, 20, from Clapham, Ben Wheeler, 21, from Kennington, south London, and Kevin Godin-Prior, 68, from Manchester, had been all named on the court docket papers.
The Met mentioned Jade Spence, 33, of Lambeth, and Jenny Edmunds, 32, of Lewisham, are on account of be handled on June 15.
All six instances have been dropped at court docket as a result of the fines issued for alleged breaches of Covid guidelines weren’t paid, the drive mentioned.
A complete of 9 fastened penalty notices had been issued. Two had been paid, and the opposite was dropped with no additional motion.
The occasion had initially been organised by Reclaim These Streets, who cancelled it after the Met mentioned it shouldn’t go forward.
However folks turned up all through the day, and officers didn’t intervene for the primary six hours whereas many got here to put flowers, with Kate Middleton additionally paying her respects.
Nonetheless, when crowds refused to depart when requested by police, it led to clashes that noticed protesters bundled to the bottom and arrested.
The Met confronted a barrage of criticism, together with requires Commissioner Cressida Dick to resign.
The choice to prosecute i nsecret was denounced by campaigners on social media, together with Reclaim These Streets co-founder, Jamie Klingler.
Police stand in line at a Clapham Widespread vigil for Sarah Everard on March 13, 2021
She wrote: ‘Why does the Met Police have a vendetta in opposition to girls protesting a girl killed by a serving officer? Is that this payback that we helped get Cressida Dick faraway from workplace? How is losing extra public cash prosecuting girls that attended the vigil going to rebuild belief?’.
Ruth Davison, CEO of the ladies’s charity Refuge, was additionally crucial, saying: ‘We strongly disagree with this resolution by the Met.
‘After their software to attraction the judgment in opposition to them introduced by Reclaim These Streets was refused for the second time, they need to have sensed the general public temperature and ceased any additional motion.
‘With belief in police extremely low, it’s absurd that the drive is making an attempt to prosecute people who attended a peaceable gathering for a younger girl who was kidnapped and murdered by a serving officer.
‘The very fact these attendees are dealing with prosecution for breaking the identical Covid guidelines that Couzens used to kidnap and kill Sarah is one thing I can not comprehend. It’s a transfer that can do nothing to rebuild girls’s belief within the police.
Properly-wishers gentle candles round a tree on Clapham Widespread, March 13, 2021
‘The Met can be higher suggested to deal with enhancing the charging and prosecution charges for perpetrators of abuse and violence in opposition to girls and women and getting their very own home so as.’
Earlier this yr, the Excessive Courtroom dominated the Met had breached the rights of organisers at the vigil, however the unrepentant drive refused to apologise over its a lot criticised dealing with, as an alternative insisting it may attraction.
An totally damning judgement mentioned the constabulary ‘didn’t carry out its authorized obligation’ and didn’t assume if the organisers ‘might need an affordable excuse for holding the gathering’.
The ruling added the Met didn’t even ‘conduct the fact-specific proportionality evaluation required with the intention to carry out that obligation’.
Scotland Yard was refused permission to attraction in opposition to the ruling for a second time.
Dismissing the attraction bid, Lord Justice Holroyde mentioned in a court docket order that, whereas he recognised the applying of ideas guiding the appropriate to protest ‘could also be tough for the police, and that the issue could also be elevated when contemplating a potential occasion’ they had been ‘clear’ and no separate steering is required.
The choose mentioned he may see ‘no debatable foundation on which it may be mentioned that the (Excessive) Courtroom’s resolution was mistaken’.
Miss Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Couzens. He was given a complete life sentence, from which he won’t ever be launched, at the Outdated Bailey in September after admitting murdering her.