Met Police ‘hiding behind Covid on Sarah Everard vigil behaviour’

Met Police ‘Hiding Behind Covid On Sarah Everard Vigil Behaviour’
Patsy Stevenson was detained at the event on Clapham Common in March 2021, which was held amid ongoing Covid restrictions.
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By Harry Stedman, PA

A woman arrested at a vigil for murdered marketing executive Sarah Everard has accused the Metropolitan Police of “hiding behind” Covid-19 as an excuse for their actions.

Patsy Stevenson was detained at the event on Clapham Common in March 2021, which was held amid ongoing Covid restrictions.


She and Dania Al-Obeid, who was also at the vigil, have since secured payouts after winning a legal battle, and received a letter of apology from the Met.

The force was criticised for its heavy handling of the later stages of the vigil, with outrage that some women were bundled to the ground.



Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, Ms Stevenson said: “I wonder if there will be an investigation into the transcript of what those officers said, because I’ve seen what they said and I didn’t see anything to do with Covid.

“I saw something that said along the lines of ‘Let’s nick these four’, ‘They’re spouting stuff about the Met Police’, ‘lefty-something’ – there wasn’t a bit on there that said ‘We need to restrict this because of Covid regulations’.

“I think that the whole thing was ridiculous – I think they are hiding behind the guise of Covid-19, when they actually just acted inappropriately. ”


Asked if she felt the Met was learning from the incident, she added: “I think it will always be lip service.

“I think [Met Police Commissioner] Mark Rowley is better at lip service than [former commissioner] Cressida Dick was, I think he’s doing things in a more tactical way.

“Time and time again we see an incident happen, the police do a lot of PR damage like they did with the vigil, and then they get a new commissioner in [and promise] radical reform. Where is this reform?”

Sarah Everard death
Floral tributes left next to the bandstand in Clapham Common, London, for Sarah Everard. Photo: Kirsty O’Connor/PA.

An outpouring of anger at Ms Everard’s murder by a serving police officer led to hundreds of people attending the event, including the Princess of Wales.

Commander Karen Findlay wrote in letters to Ms Stevenson and Ms Al-Obeid: “I wish to emphasise that I fully acknowledge that your motivations in attending the vigil were to express your grief and anger regarding the circumstances of the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, and to express the level of concern and dissatisfaction felt by you and many other women who were understandably feeling badly let down by the Met.”

A spokesman for the Met said on Wednesday that the Clapham Common vigil took place in “extraordinary circumstances”, and the actions of individual officers present at the event were found to have been “appropriate”.


Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a statement: “The murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met officer damaged the confidence of many Londoners in the police.

“In the wake of such a horrendous crime, the policing of the vigil, held in her memory, further eroded trust.

“I was very clear with the Met at the time, that the scenes we saw at the vigil were completely unacceptable.

“They were one of the reasons I lost confidence in the former commissioner and pushed for the IOPC to conduct an independent investigation.”

He added that he would continue to work closely with Sir Mark Rowley to reform the Met, so those let down by the force “see the fundamental change and improvement they deserve”.

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