Hundreds of people spontaneously gathered in south London in memory of Sarah Everard (Pictures: Getty/ Reuters
Protesters who attended Sarah Everard’s vigil are being prosecuted by the Metropolitan Police for ‘breaching Covid-19 laws’.
Their case was due to be heard earlier today, behind closed doors and away from the press and public.
Reports of the closed hearing was a shock to many after the Met lost its bid to appeal a High Court ruling against its handling of the Clapham Common vigil in March 2021.
Hundreds spontaneously gathered in memory of Sarah – who was raped and murdered by serving officer Wayne Couzens.
They came to show their solidarity after organisers Reclaim These Streets (RTS) cancelled the vigil over threats by the force of £10,000 fines.
The Met’s policing at the time was heavily criticised after women were handcuffed on the ground and led away by officers.
Dania Al-Obeid, 27, from Stratford, Vivien Hohmann, 20, from Clapham, Ben Wheeler, 21, from Kennington, and Kevin Godin-Prior, 68, from Manchester, are being prosecuted by the Met over their attendance at the vigil, court papers said.
Patsy Stevenson was one of the people arrested at the event (Picture: REX)
The vigil was also a call to end violence against girls and women perpetrated by men (Picture: Getty)
They are all accused of participating in the gathering in March 2021 of more than two people in a public outdoor place when London was under Tier 4 restrictions.
Marketing manager Ms Al-Obeid, who is taking legal advice over the fine, said: ‘This isn’t about the £200, I’ve had people come forward and offer to pay this. It’s about what this fine represents.
‘I’ve requested any updates regarding the fine to be made via email as I’m not in the country, however the first I hear of this charge is via the media.
‘It’s been dealt with so poorly from start to finish and I’m just expected to roll over and accept this treatment. I’m considering fighting this as it’s simply not fair.’
Their cases were due to be heard in secret at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today under the single justice procedure.
Members of the public and the media were not permitted to attend, and the outcome is not expected to be made public until next week.
People gathered to lay flowers and pay their respects (Picture: Getty)
People gathered at Parliament Square the night after the vigil to criticise the Met (Picture: getty)
All six protesters have been accused of breaking Covid-19 Tier 4 restrictions (Picture: PA)
Closed hearings are becoming increasingly common for cases where an adult is charged with a non-imprisonable offence.
The prosecutions also come just weeks after the Met’s probe into Downing Street and Whitehall parties was concluded with 126 fines.
According to a report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, police ‘acted appropriately’ when dealing with last year’s vigil.
But it also found it was a ‘public relations disaster’ and described some Met Police officers’ statements as ‘tone deaf’.
Jamie Klingler from RTS responded to the prosecutions: ‘Why does the Met Police UK have a vendetta against women protesting a woman killed by a serving officer?
‘Is this payback that we helped get Cressida Dick removed from office? How is wasting more public money prosecuting women that attended the vigil going to rebuild trust?’
She also added: ‘How is wasting more public money prosecuting women that attended the vigil going to rebuild trust?’
Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, took to Twitter, accusing the Met Police of ‘losing the plot’.
Anti-monarchists plaster ‘Make Elizabeth the Last’ posters across UK
‘On the one hand, revellers in Downing Street are given fixed penalty notices, whilst attendees at an outdoor vigil for a woman abducted, raped, and murdered by a cop are subject to prosecution.
‘They are not serious about earning women’s trust.’
A spokesperson for the force said that two other protesters, Jade Spence, 33, of Lambeth, and Jenny Edmunds, 32, of Lewisham, are due to appear at the same court on June 15.
A statement said: ‘This follows the issuing of nine fixed penalty notices (FPNs) relating to events on Clapham Common on March 13, 2021, at around 7pm.
‘Seven of those issued with FPNs failed to pay. In one of these cases no further action was taken.
‘The remaining six were charged as above. The decisions follow a full evidential review.’
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].
For more stories like this, check our news page.