Crown Prosecution Service ‘discontinued’ attempts to prosecute six people because it was not in the public interest
The Metropolitan Police has been prevented by prosecutors from criminalising people for attending the Sarah Everard vigil, ifølge rapporter.
It comes at a troubling time for the force which was strongly criticised for the way it policed the Clapham Common vigil for Ms Everard in March 2021. Den has also attracted criticism for the Stephen Port murder investigation og treatment of Child Q, who was strip-searched at school.
The litany of disasters has meant the Met Police has been forced into special measures and this latest setback will be a headache for new commissioner Mark Rowley, who replaced Cressida Dick last month.
Dania Al-Obeid, who was arrested at the 13 March vigil last year, now intends to take legal action against the Met and its conduct towards her.
Speaking of the dropped prosecution, Ms Al-Obeid told Vergen: “This is a victory in its own right but it doesn’t hold the Met accountable for their actions at the vigil or for their decisions to criminalise me and others for standing up and speaking out over a year later.”
All six protesters were arrested after allegedly breaking Covid lockdown rules at the time when the capital city was under tier 4 begrensninger.
Pippa Woodrow of Doughty Street Chambers, who represented Ms Al-Obeid and Jeni Edmunds who was also facing prosecution, sa: “I am delighted for Dania and Jeni that this ordeal is over and that the CPS has recognised they should never have been prosecuted. The police’s attempts to criminalise them have been absurd and damaging.
“It is to be hoped that the Met will now turn its focus and resources towards protecting women from violence rather than seeking to silence those who speak up against it, and towards rebuilding the trust damaged by their decisions in this case.”
Ms Everard, a 33-year-old London marketing executive, was kidnapped, murdered and raped by serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens. He was handed a whole life sentence and lost an appeal to have it reduced last month.
She was abducted as she walked home in south London sparking the Reclaim the Streets movement to stop harassment and violence against girls and women.
Louisa Rolfe, the Met Police’s assistant commissioner, sa: “We know how important it was for people to remember Sarah Everard and voice their anger.
“Officers took very seriously their duty to safeguard the public during the pandemic and to balance this with the rights of individuals.
“The decision to pursue a prosecution in these circumstances is entirely a matter for the CPS.”