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Sarah Everard vigil in doubt as judge refuses to intervene in dispute with Met Police

Written by on 12/03/2021

A judge has refused to intervene in a dispute over whether police should allow a vigil for Sarah Everard to take place on Saturday.

Police initially gave a “positive response” to the plans for a vigil, but the women behind the event claim the Met later reversed its position because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reclaim the Streets launched a legal challenge in the High Court to overturn the decision to ban Saturday’s event at Clapham Common, south London.

Undated handout issued by the Metropolitan Police showing missing woman Sarah Everard, 33, who left a friend's house in Clapham, south London, on Wednesday evening at around 9pm and began walking home to Brixton. Issue date: Tuesday March 9, 2021.
Image: Police have confirmed that remains found in Kent are those of Ms Everard

Mr Justice Holgate has refused the application to make “an interim declaration” that any ban on outdoor gatherings under coronavirus regulations is “subject to the right to protest”.

He also refused to make a declaration that an alleged policy by the Metropolitan Police of “prohibiting all protests, irrespective of the specific circumstances” is unlawful.

In addition, the judge ruled that “the requirements of the law have been clearly stated” in previous court rulings, including a challenge to COVID-19 lockdown rules brought by businessman Simon Dolan, which was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in December.

But he added that there may be “further communication” between the organiser’s lawyers and police to discuss the “application of the regulations”.

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Earlier on Friday, detectives confirmed that human remains found in Ashford, Kent, on Wednesday are those of Ms Everard.

Asked about the case, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had been “shocked and appalled”, and that the “whole country is united in feeling for her friends and family”.

Mr Johnson said he “totally understands why this has triggered such a wave of feeling on this issue of safety of women”.

A serving Met officer remains in custody at a London police station after being arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering Ms Everard.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: “I know that the public feel hurt and angry about what has happened, and those are sentiments that I share personally, and I know my colleagues here at Scotland Yard and across the Met share as well.

“I also recognise the wider concerns that have been raised, quite rightly, about the safety of women in public spaces in London and also elsewhere in the country.

“I want to say now that this organisation, and the men and women in it, remain committed to protecting Londoners wherever they are in this city.

“That commitment is undiminished by these events and, if anything, (it) is strengthened by these tragic circumstances.”

 Sky News

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