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Met Police to issue payouts to women arrested at Sarah Everard vigil

Two women who had been arrested at a vigil have secured payouts from the force.

Two woman who were detained at a vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common in March 2021 have secured payouts from the Metropolitan Police.

Patsy Stevenson and Dania Al-Obeid were both detained at the event which was held amid ongoing Covid restrictions.

The event was originally planned by campaign group Reclaim These Streets, which cancelled the protest after Met officers threatened organisers with £10,000 fines under lockdown rules in place at the time.

But members of the public attended anyway, with no police intervention for around six hours before clashes occurred.

Commander Karen Findlay wrote in letters to both women: “I wish to emphasise that I fully acknowledge that your motivations in attending the vigil were to express your grief and anger regarding the circumstances of the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, and to express the level of concern and dissatisfaction felt by you and many other women who were understandably feeling badly let down by the Met.

“The policing plan for the vigil was devised to provide an opportunity for members of the public to attend in order to express their grief and anger.

“Acknowledging that the fundamental right to protest remained, the circumstances at the time of the vigil – namely that we were in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic - presented an extremely difficult challenge for policing and the officers present due to the need to balance the potential risk such a gathering could pose to public health.

“That aside, I appreciate the anger, frustration and alarm your arrest undoubtedly caused you, exacerbated by the subsequent proceedings, and I regret that your opportunity to express your grief and anger was curtailed by your arrest and removal.”

A legal battle resulted in the original RTS organisers successfully arguing that their right to protest had been breached by the Met.

Now the Met has reached a settlement with Patsy Stevenson and Dania Al-Obeid, saying that a protracted legal dispute is "not in the interests of any party". 

A spokesperson for the force said: "The Clapham Common vigil took place in extraordinary circumstances, in the midst of a pandemic where restrictions on gatherings were in force for very valid public health reasons and in the days immediately following the most appalling murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met officer.

"We tried to achieve a balance that recognised the rights of the public to protest and to express their grief and sadness, while also continuing to enforce the relevant Covid legislation."

HMIC found the actions of individual officers were appropriate and that they acted in good faith - interpretating changing legislation in a way that was consistent with colleagues across London. 

The spokesperson continued: "A protracted legal dispute is not in the interests of any party, least of all the complainants who we recognise have already experienced significant distress as a result of this incident.

"The most appropriate decision, to minimise the ongoing impact on all involved, was to reach an agreed settlement."

Rachel Harger, the women’s solicitor from Bindmans LLP representing said: “I am glad that the Met have finally acknowledged that those who attended the vigil had the fundamental right to protest the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met officer.

“Protests are as vital as they have ever been, without them, injustices will be unchallenged and people will lose confidence in democratic processes by which things can change.”

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