Metropolitan Police seeking second appeal against High Court ruling over Sarah Everard vigil

UK

The Metropolitan Police is seeking another appeal against a High Court ruling, which found the force breached the rights of organisers at a vigil held for Sarah Everard last year.

The bid marks the forces’ second attempt to overturn the ruling after judges refused to give it permission to appeal its decision earlier this month.

Scotland Yard said it is trying to challenge the case as it believes there are “important points of principle around the role of police advising organisers ahead of a proposed event”.

Taking place while COVID restrictions were in place, campaign group Reclaim These Streets (RTS) proposed a socially distanced vigil for 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who was murdered by former Met officer Wayne Couzens.

However, organisers cancelled the event after being told by the force they would face £10,000 fines and possible prosecution if it went ahead.

Despite that, a spontaneous vigil and protest took place in Clapham, south London, anyway.

The group has criticised the Met Police for “spending more taxpayer money” to continue its fight.

More on Metropolitan Police

It said: “Despite the High Court’s vehement rejection of their hopeless application for permission to appeal, they are now trying to appeal to the Court of Appeal. Will it never end?”

The four women who founded RTS, Jessica Leigh, Anna Birley, Henna Shah and Jamie Klingler, argued that decisions made by the force in advance of the planned vigil amounted to a breach of their human rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

In March, their claim was upheld by Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate, who found that the Met’s decisions in the run-up to the event were “not in accordance with the law”.

The force then applied to challenge the ruling at the Court of Appeal, but the judges refused permission.

Now, it is asking the Court of Appeal itself to grant permission to challenge the ruling.

Read more: A year after Sarah Everard’s murder, are women any safer?

“We believe that clarity around these issues is of the utmost importance both for citizens and their right to free expression and for the police in how they enforce legal restrictions while remaining neutral to the cause behind the event itself,” the Met Police said.

“This appeal is not about the policing of the vigil itself, but about the decisions and communications with Reclaim These Streets ahead of the planned event last March.”

It added that it continues to police “hundred of protests and events across London every month” and accepts the “important principles of scrutiny and challenge into this area of policing”.

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