Photo: Reuters/Hannah McKay
Police acted appropriately in the way they dispersed a peaceful crowd of protesters at a vigil for a woman who disappeared while walking home in London, an official report has concluded.The Metropolitan police had been criticised for the way in which they handcuffed women and forcibly removed them from the vigil for Sarah Everard in Clapham Common earlier this month.But a report from a police watchdog commissioned by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said that police behaved appropriately and consistently in light of COVID guidelines around mass gatherings in place at the time.
On the night in question, hundreds gathered in Clapham Common to peacefully remember Everard, 33, who was last seen walking home nearby on the 3rd of March. Her body was found a week later in woodland outside London. A serving police officer, 48-year-old Wayne Couzens, has been charged his her murder and kidnap, and is due to stand trial in October.The event was initially organised by feminist group Reclaim These Streets until police threatened organisers with fines. Direct action group Sister’s Uncut later took over the event. At the time, many were concerned over the handling of the protest by the Metropolitan Police. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply concerned” by the scenes, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was "urgently seeking an explanation,” as social media footage showing the clashes between protesters and police circulated. Jess Phillips, Labour's Shadow Domestic Violence Minister, said the force had "got it wrong at every single turn".