London: Met fines people who attended Sarah Everard vigil


The Met received widespread criticism for its handling of the emotionally charged gathering (Image: Reuters/Getty)

Three people have been fined after attending a vigil for Sarah Everard – and are expected to pay more than the Prime Minister for breaking the rules.

Hundreds gathered on Clapham Common to pay tribute to the murdered 33-year-old, who was kidnapped not far from South London Park last March.

The event prompted widespread criticism of the Metropolitan Police, with images of women being handcuffed causing shock.

A socially distanced gathering originally proposed by Reclaim These Streets has been canceled after its organizers were threatened with a £10,000 fine.

But thousands attended anyway, turning the bandstands into a memorial.

Now three people who attended the unofficial vigil attended by the Duchess of Cambridge earlier in the day have been fined for breaking Covid-19 rules.

Each was fined £220 and ordered to pay £100 in court costs and a £34 victim’s surcharge with 28 days to pay, the court said on Thursday.

The fine – handed down by a court after a Met prosecution rather than directly by the police – is well in excess of what Boris Johnson received for attending his own Downing Street birthday party.

Dania Al-Obeid PICTURED A woman screams near police officers as people gather at a memorial at Clapham Common Bandstand, following the kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard, in London, Britain March 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Dania Al-Obeid was among a group standing on the bandstand at Clapham Common (Image: Reuters)

The Prime Minister received a £50 fine after a lengthy investigation.

Dania Al-Obeid, 27, from Stratford, east London, is among those fined for attending the vigil.

She said: “This isn’t about the £200, I’ve gotten people to come forward and offer to pay that. It’s about what that fine represents.

“I have emailed asking for updates on the fine as I am out of the country. However, the first thing I hear about this charge is through the media.

“It was treated so poorly from start to finish and I’m only expected to turn around and accept that treatment. I’m considering fighting this as it’s just not fair.”

Also fined were Ben Wheeler, 21, of Kennington, south London, and Kevin Godin-Prior, 68, of Manchester, all convicted in their absence at a closed-door hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday.

They were all accused of attending a gathering at Clapham Common Bandstand with more than two people in an outdoor public place on March 13, 2021 when London was under Tier 4 restrictions.

Vigils commemorating the murder of Sarah Everard

An impromptu peaceful vigil descended into chaos, with women being led away in handcuffs (Image: Getty)

Vivien Hohmann, 20, from Clapham, is set to have a case management hearing later this month, while Jade Spence, 33, from Lambeth, south London, and Jenny Edmunds, 32, from Lewisham, south-east London, are expected next Wednesday treated.

A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police, Fire and Rescue Services concluded that police “acted appropriately” in dealing with the incident.

But it also concluded it was a “public relations” disaster, describing some statements by members of the force as “deaf.”

Last Tuesday, the Met was denied permission to appeal a second time against a High Court ruling that concluded the troupe had violated the rights of the vigil’s original organizers.

Jessica Leigh, Anna Birley, Henna Shah and Jamie Klingler argued that decisions made before the planned vigil amounted to a violation of their human rights to freedom of speech and assembly, and said the force failed to assess the potential public health risk .

In a March judgment, their claim was upheld by Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate, who found the Met’s decisions leading up to the event were “not in accordance with the law”.

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Justin Scacco

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