Police Say the Sarah Everard Vigil Is ‘Unlawful’, According to Organisers

Reclaim These Streets says that it has been threatened with fines and criminal charges if it goes ahead with the event in south London.
Sarah Everard
PHOTO: METROPOLITAN POLICE/FAMILY HANDOUT

Organisers of a London vigil to mark the disappearance of Sarah Everard say police are pressuring them to cancel the event.

Reclaim These Streets, the group responsible for organising the outdoor event close to where Everard was last seen alive, say that despite an initial positive response from the Metropolitan Police, it is now being threatened with fines and criminal charges under the Serious Crimes Act. 

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In a statement, Reclaim These Streets said: “We were always aware of the challenges of organising a COVID-secure vigil, but safety has been a top priority from the beginning. When we initially proposed the event, we proactively reached out to Lambeth Council and the Metropolitan Police to ensure that the event could safely and legally take place.”

“The Metropolitan Police have reversed their position and stated that the vigil would be unlawful and that, as organisers, we could face tens of thousands of pounds in fines and criminal prosecution under the Serious Crimes Act.”

The group is working with human rights lawyers from Bindmans LLP and Doughty Street Chambers for advice on how to proceed, and has set up a legal crowdfunding website to pay for the service. Currently, the crowdfunder has received over £37,000 in donations.

In a statement, the Met Police said: “We understand the public's strength of feeling and are aware of the statement issued by Reclaim These Streets with regard to a planned vigil for Sarah Everard in Clapham Common this weekend. We remain in discussion with the organisers about this event in light of the current COVID regulations.”

Further updates are set to come today from the Met. 

Everard, 33, was walking home through the south London area of Clapham when she went missing last week. A serving Met Police officer is currently under arrest on suspicion of murder and kidnap, and a separate charge of indecent exposure, which happened three days before Everard’s disappearance. 

Human remains have been found in connection with the investigation in woodlands in Kent, but DNA identification is yet to take place. 

In a statement appealing for more information, Everard’s parents said: "Sarah was bright and beautiful – a wonderful daughter and sister. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable. She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour."

"She was strong and principled and a shining example to us all,” they continued. “We are very proud of her and she brought so much joy to our lives.”