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Met to appeal against Sarah Everard vigil organizers’ decision rights violated

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People leave floral tributes at the band’s stall on Clapham Common (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA File)

The Metropolitan Police said it will appeal a High Court ruling that it infringed the rights of organizers of a vigil for Sarah Everard.

Reclaim These Streets (RTS) planned the socially distanced vigil for Mrs Everard, 33, who was killed by Met officer Wayne Couzens, near where she disappeared in Clapham, south London, last March.

In a ruling earlier this month, two senior judges found that the Met’s decisions in the run-up to the planned event were “not in accordance with the law”.

Scotland Yard said on Friday it had “taken time to consider” the ruling and wants to “work out what the law requires when policing protests and events.”

It is important to the police and the public that we are absolutely clear about what is expected of us in law.

met the police

In an unusual move, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has spoken out to say he is “extremely concerned” about the force’s decision to appeal.

“The kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer has greatly damaged the trust of Londoners, particularly women and girls, in the police,” said a spokesman for Khan.

“In the wake of such a horrendous crime, the vigil surveillance in his memory further eroded trust,” it added.

Khan will raise his concerns with outgoing Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, the spokesman added.

A statement from the Met said: “It is absolutely right that we are held accountable for our actions and that there is proper scrutiny of the decisions we make as a police force to uphold legislation and maintain public order.

“We also respect Reclaim These Streets’ strong views in defense of human rights and public protest, and their pursuit of justice for these views.

“As an organisation, we work for, support and monitor hundreds of protests and events in London every day and we take our responsibilities under Human Rights Law in doing so very seriously.

“It is important for the police and the public that we have absolute clarity of what is expected of us in the law.

“That is why we feel we should seek permission to appeal the sentence in order to resolve what the law requires in monitoring future protests and events.”

The founders of Reclaim These Streets outside the Royal Courts of Justice, after judges ruled that the Met Police disenfranchised organizers of a planned vigil for Sarah Everard with its handling of the planned event (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

The founders of Reclaim These Streets outside the Royal Courts of Justice, after judges ruled that the Met Police disenfranchised organizers of a planned vigil for Sarah Everard with its handling of the planned event (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

RTS co-founder Jessica Klingler was among those who expressed anger at the announcement, accusing the force of wanting to “wear us out.”

“I’m not going to pretend I’m not mad,” she tweeted.

He added: “They want us to give up, they want to wear us down. Fuck that. Learn the law.”

Activist Patsy Stevenson, who was pictured being held at the vigil in a widely shared photograph, tweeted: “They still can’t be held accountable.”

Ms Klingler and the three other women who founded RTS filed a legal challenge against the force for its handling of the event, which was also intended as a protest of violence against women.

They withdrew from the organization after being told by the force that they would face fines of £10,000 each and possible prosecution if they went ahead, given the pandemic-related restrictions on freedom that were in place at the time, with a spontaneous vigil and a protest instead. .

Jessica Leigh, Anna Birley, Henna Shah and Ms. Klingler argued that the decisions made by force prior to the planned vigil amounted to a violation of their human rights to freedom of expression and assembly, saying the force failed to assess the potential risk to public health.

Upholding her claim, the High Court found that the Met had “failed to fulfill its statutory duty” to consider whether the women might have a reasonable excuse to hold the meeting.

Couzens, 49, was given a life sentence at the Old Bailey in September after admitting to the murder of Mrs Everard.


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