OPINION - The Standard View: The Met’s decision to prosecute Sarah Everard vigil attendees shows how far it has to go

·1-min read
Crowds at the vigil in memory of Sarah Everard on Clapham Common (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Crowds at the vigil in memory of Sarah Everard on Clapham Common (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

They were disturbing scenes at a moment of heightened tension — women being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by police during the vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common on March 13 last year.

Only days earlier, Ms Everard, 33, had been kidnapped, raped and murdered by serving police officer Wayne Couzens in a crime that stunned our city and the nation before sparking protests about women’s safety.

Given the nature of the vigil, and the understandable level of criticism directed at the Met over its policing of the event, it is surprising that Scotland Yard decided to pursue prosecutions of attendees under Covid laws.

Not least after the High Court ruled in March this year that the Met’s decision to block the gathering, organised by Reclaim These Streets, had been unlawful because the force had not considered the right to freedom of speech and assembly.

This is only the latest in a catalogue of missteps and public relations disasters for the Met and serves to further underline the challenge facing the new Commissioner in regaining trust and focusing on serving Londoners.

London schools’ win

In a contest to find the “world’s best school”, established to celebrate education in the aftermath of the pandemic, three London schools have been shortlisted among five categories.

Winners will be given a share of a $250,000 (£200,000) prize. But more importantly, this highlights the success of London’s education system and the hard work of students and teachers following the extraordinary disruption to learning wrought by Covid.

Congratulations to all the schools, and good luck.

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