Police breached rights of Sarah Everard vigil organisers
Two judges have ruled that Met Police breached the rights of the organisers of a planned vigil for Sarah Everard.
The group had to cancel the event after the Met said it would be illegal to stage it under lockdown restrictions.
However, hundreds of people attended an unofficial gathering on Clapham Common in south London to pay their respects to Everard, who was murdered by Met officer, Wayne Couzens.
The vigil, held on 13 March 2021, saw clashes between police and some of those there.
At a two-day hearing at the High Court in January, Jessica Leigh, Anna Birley, Henna Shah and Jamie Klingler argued that decisions made by the force in advance of the planned vigil amounted to a breach of their right to freedom of speech and assembly.
In a statement after the ruling, the women’s solicitor Theodora Middleton said: “Today’s judgment is a victory for women.
“Last March, women’s voices were silenced. Today’s judgment conclusively shows that the police were wrong to silence us.
“The decisions and actions by the Met Police in the run-up to the planned vigil for Sarah Everard last year were unlawful and the judgment sets a powerful precedent for protest rights.
“We came together one year and one day ago to organise a vigil on Clapham Common because Sarah Everard went missing from our neighbourhood. We felt sad and afraid.
“We were angry that women still weren’t safe and we were tired of the burden to stay safe always weighing on our shoulders.”
Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate released their ruling in favour of arguments made by the four women, finding that the Met’s actions were “not in accordance with the law”.
In a summary, Lord Justice Warby said the Met had “failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering”.
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