Sarah Everard campaigners threatened with £10,000 fines over Clapham Common vigil will tell High Court that Met Police breached their human rights

  • Reclaim the Streets Members to Appear at High Court Over Sarah Everard Vigil
  • These people will claim that the police’s decision not to grant vigil violated their human rights.
  • Police threatened campaigners with £10,000 fines if the vigil went ahead 
  • Clapham Common group cancelled, 1,500 people attended anyway 
  • Met Police were criticised for their heavy-handed approach, which led to fights and even arrests 

Sarah Everard campaigners who were threatened with £10,000 fines over a vigil at Clapham Common will tell the High Court that the Metropolitan Police breached their human rights.

Members of collective Reclaim the Streets had hoped to raise awareness and provoke change by organising a gathering of women on the common close to where Sarah was kidnapped while walking home from a friend’s house on March 3 last year. 

However, despite liaising with police, the organisers cancelled the event and ‘strongly encouraged people not to gather’ amid fears they would be hit with £10,000 fines.

A crowd of about 1,500 demonstrators gathered at south London’s common. However, police were forced to surround a stand covered in flowers as a tribute, and scuffles broke out. 

Numerous officers stormed the bandstand during the vigil in an attempt to prevent speakers from being accessible. Tensions quickly rose in the crowd when mourners began chanting “arrest your own” and “shame upon you”. 

Four arrests were made by the Met after it was widely criticized for its brutal tactics that night.

Reclaim the Streets members are due to make their claim that the Met Police’s threat of fines violated their human rights almost a year after the fact.

Patsy Stevenson, a Physics student at Royal Holloway, was pinned to the floor after joining hundreds of women to mourn Sarah's death at a vigil on Clapham Common in south London on March 13

Patsy Stephenson (a Physics student at Royal Holloway) was pinched to the ground after she joined hundreds of others to grieve Sarah’s loss at Clapham Common in south London.

Sarah Everard, 33, was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Met officer Wayne Couzens while walking home in south London

Sarah Everard (33 years old) was abducted, raped, and killed by Wayne Couzens, Met Officer, while she was walking back home from south London

People clash with police during a gathering at a temporary memorial site around the Clapham Common Bandstand

At a temporary site near the Clapham Common Bandstand, people clash with officers during an altercation.

This is a summary from the argument that the organisation will present to court next week. The organization argues that police have violated their freedom to speech and assembly rights.

Collective members have stated that if they are successful, they will seek’modest damages’ which will be paid to charity dedicated to fighting violence against women.

Reclaim the Streets stated in a statement that they had received evidence showing that the Police did not fulfill their duties in democratic societies, in the context Articles 10 and 11. This was to enable peaceful protest.

They decided to stop starting with the assumption that the Vigil was an important exercise in individual rights to freedoms of expression and association, and instead of trying to facilitate those rights being exercised lawfully, they said that the gathering they were proposing to organize and attend is illegal and they must actively discourage them from doing so.

“We request the Court to declare that we have rights under Article 10 of the HRA. [Human Rights Act] were breached.

“If this succeeds, it will be an important precedent. This applies not only to police operations during pandemics but also the necessity for them not to use the high-level decisions taken by Parliament as reasons for evading their human rights obligations.

Well-wishers gather beside floral tributes to honour murder victim Sarah Everard at the bandstand on Clapham Common in south London on March 14 last year

On March 14, 2013, well-wishers gathered at Clapham Common, south London to pay their respects to Sarah Everard.

After Sarah disappeared, Vigils took place across the country in March 2013.

Wayne Couzens Met officers abducted, raped, and killed her. Covid laws were used to handcuff, stop and set up a false arrest. Then, he strangled her with his police belt.

On June 8, he pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to the kidnapping and rape of her, before pleading guilty to murder in the same court on July 9

Couzens was given a life sentence on September 30, 2009.