Organisers of a gathering in memory of Sarah Everard have claimed the Metropolitan Police have ‘reversed their position’ on permitting the vigil to take place.
Those arranging the ‘Reclaim These Streets’ event said the Met initially responded positively to the proposed plans, telling organisers they were ‘developing a local policing plan’ to allow it to go ahead.
However, organisers now say police have claimed their ‘hands are tied’ by current
The vigil in Clapham Common, south-west
A serving Metropolitan Police officer, Wayne Couzens, 48, was arrested in Deal, Kent, on Tuesday on suspicion of her kidnap and murder.
The vigil in Clapham Common, south-west London, was planned for Saturday in memory of marketing executive Sarah Everard, who disappeared while walking home to Brixton on March 3
Organisers of a gathering in memory of Sarah Everard have claimed the Metropolitan Police have ‘reversed their position’ on permitting the vigil to take place
Lawyers for the ‘Reclaim These Streets’ group have today challenged the Met’s interpretation of Covid-19 legislation when read together with the Human Rights Act.
In a statement, ‘Reclaim These Streets’ said: ‘When we initially proposed the event, we proactively reached out to Lambeth Council and Metropolitan Police to ensure that the event could safely and legally take place.
‘After initially receiving a positive response, we continued to plan and promote the event and continued to update the Council and Police.
‘The Metropolitan Police said that they were “trying to navigate a way through” and they they were “currently developing a local policing plan” to allow the vigil to take place and to enable them to develop “an appropriate and proportionate local response” to the event.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police laid flowers at the gates of the disused golf course and sports centre close to the woodland where remains feared to be Sarah’s have been found
‘Reclaim These Streets’ last night raised more than £37,000 to pay any potential costs of the High Court appeal
‘Since this statement, the Metropolitan Police have reversed their position and stated that the vigil would be unlawful and that, as organisers, we could face tens of thousands of pounds in fines and prosecution under the Serious Crimes Act.’
The group hope to seek an urgent order from the High Court on Friday confirming that the Metropolitan Police’s understanding of the law is incorrect.
Organisers added: ‘We have taken urgent advice from a group of human rights lawyers from Bindmans LLP and Blackstone and Doughty Street Chambers.
‘Their view is that the Metropolitan Police are wrong in their interpretation of the law and that socially distant, outdoor gatherings of this kind are are allowed under the current lockdown restrictions when read together with the Human Rights Act.’
Harriet Harman, MP for Camberwell and Peckham, has written to the Metropolitan Police in support of this view. She plans to attend the gathering in Clapham Common on Saturday.
A Metropolitan Police van and a private ambulance at the scene of the woods near Ashford in Kent
Police search woodland in Ashford near Kent (pictured) where human remains were found on Wednesday night
She said: ‘Parliament has not specifically acted to constrain the right to demonstrate, so long as social distancing is observed this vigil will be perfectly lawful.’
Promotional images for the march clearly ask those who attend the gathering to adhere to social distancing rules and to wear masks.
‘Reclaim These Streets’ last night raised more than £37,000 to pay any potential costs of the High Court appeal.
Under current lockdown rules, police in England can hand out fines of up to £10,000 to those found hosting gatherings of more than 30 people.
The group said they were ‘always aware of the challenges of organising a Covid-secure vigil,’ adding: ‘Safety has always been a top priority from the beginning.’
The Metropolitan Police told the
‘We remain in discussion with the organisers about this event in light of the current Covid regulations.’
In their statement, ‘Reclaim These Streets’ said the Met would be ‘silencing thousands of women like us who want to honour Sarah’s memory and stand up for our right to feel safe on the street’ by cancelling the vigil.
They added: ‘This is a vigil for Sarah, but also for all women who feel unsafe, who go missing from our streets and who face violence every day.’
MailOnline has contacted the Metropolitan Police for further comment.
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