Met Police secretly following six protesters at Sarah Everard’s vigil

Police and mourners at Sarah Everard's vigil in London

Hundreds of people spontaneously gathered in south London to commemorate Sarah Everard (Images: Getty/Reuters

Protesters who attended Sarah Everard’s vigil are being prosecuted by the Metropolitan Police for ‘breaking Covid-19 laws’.

Your case should be tried earlier today behind closed doors and away from the press and the public.

Reports of the closed hearing came as a shock to many after the Met lost its application to appeal a High Court ruling over the handling of Clapham Common’s vigil in March 2021.

Hundreds spontaneously gathered to commemorate Sarah – who was raped and murdered by duty officer Wayne Couzens.

They came to show their solidarity after organizers Reclaim These Streets (RTS) canceled the vigil over threats of a £10,000 fine.

The Met’s policing at the time was heavily criticized after women were handcuffed to the ground and led away by officers.

Dania Al-Obeid, 27, of Stratford, Vivien Hohmann, 20, of Clapham, Ben Wheeler, 21, of Kennington, and Kevin Godin-Prior, 68, of Manchester, are being prosecuted by the Met for attending the vigil. court records said.

Patsy Stevenson was one of the people arrested at the event (Image: REX)
The vigil was also a call for an end to violence against girls and women committed by men (Picture: Getty)

They are all accused of attending the gathering of more than two people in an outdoor public place in March 2021 when London was under Tier 4 restrictions.

Marketing manager Ms Al-Obeid, who is seeking legal advice on the fine, said: “This is not about the £200, I’ve had people come forward and offer to pay that. It’s about what that fine represents.

“I have emailed for updates on the fine as I am out of the country but the first I hear of these charges 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.”

Their cases were due to be tried in secret at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today under the Single Justice system.

The public and media were not allowed to attend and the result is not expected to be released until next week.

People gathered to lay flowers and pay their respects (Image: Getty)
People gathered in Parliament Square the night after the vigil to criticize the Met (Image: getty)
All six protesters have been accused of violating Covid-19 Tier 4 restrictions (Image: PA)

Closed hearings are becoming increasingly common in cases where an adult is charged with a non-criminal offence.

The prosecution also comes just weeks after the Met’s investigation into the Downing Street and Whitehall parties ended with 126 fines.

Police “acted appropriately” in handling last year’s vigil, according to a report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.

However, it also noted that it was a “PR disaster” and called the testimonies of some Met cops “deaf.”

RTS’ Jamie Klingler responded to the charges: “Why does the Met Police UK have a vendetta against women protesting a woman who was killed by an officer on duty?

“Is this payback for helping remove Cressida Dick from office? How is wasting more public money on prosecuting women who attended the vigil to restore confidence?’

She also added, “How can wasting more public money on the prosecution of women who attended the vigil restore confidence?”

Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, took to Twitter and accused the Met Police of “losing the conspiracy”.

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“On the one hand, revelers at Downing Street are facing fixed penalties, while those attending an outdoor vigil for a woman who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a police officer are prosecuted.

“They are not serious about gaining women’s trust.”

A spokesman for the force said two other protesters, Jade Spence, 33, from Lambeth, and Jenny Edmunds, 32, from Lewisham, are due to appear in the same court on June 15.

A statement said: “This follows the issuance of nine Firm Penalty Notices (FPNs) in relation to events on Clapham Common around 7pm on 13 March 2021.

“Seven of those who were issued FPNs have not paid. In one of these cases, no further action was taken.

“The remaining six were charged as above. The decisions follow a full examination of the evidence.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/01/met-police-secretly-prosecutes-six-protesters-at-sarah-everards-vigil-16753002/ Met Police secretly following six protesters at Sarah Everard's vigil

Justin Scacco

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