Priti Patel warns against ‘prejudging’ report into Clapham Common vigil

Emma Bowden, PA
·2-min read

The Home Secretary has urged against “prejudging” a review into the actions of officers at the vigil for Sarah Everard at Clapham Common.

Priti Patel said the question of whether Metropolitan Police chief Dame Cressida Dick should resign following widespread criticism of the force’s handling of the event was one for after a “full report” into the police response.

Chief inspector of constabulary Sir Thomas Winsor has been tasked with carrying out the review and told the PA news agency he was “confident” inspectors would report findings to the Home Secretary within two weeks.

Metropolitan Police raid
Dame Cressida Dick (Yui Mok/PA)

In an interview with ITV’s Peston on Wednesday, Ms Patel said: “I work with the commissioner on all sorts of policing issues.

“Actually, to run and jump to the conclusion that someone should have to resign off the back of what we saw on Saturday, without seeing the full report, is completely wrong.

“I think, again, it’s wrong to end up in this sort of prejudging phase before we actually know the full facts.”

The vigil, in memory of Ms Everard, had originally been organised by the protest group Reclaim These Streets which was forced to cancel it after police said it would be in breach of coronavirus rules.

However, crowds still gathered to remember the 33-year-old marketing executive, whose death has led to an outpouring of grief and anger at violence against women.

Clapham Common vigil
(Victoria Jones/PA)

While largely peaceful, it was marred by scuffles, with police officers accused of heavy-handedness after some women were bundled to the ground and handcuffed.

On Wednesday, Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House said his officers were “doing their duty as they saw it” to enforce legislation at the event on Saturday.

Speaking to the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee on Wednesday, he said he understood the force’s actions had upset people but his officers had believed they were doing the right thing.

Sir Stephen told the committee that officers at the vigil were faced with an “incredibly difficult situation” and had been met with abuse for trying to disperse the crowds.

He said the force fully supports the independent review into the handling of the event and was already passing on the information required.

Sir Stephen also said there was a sense of “disbelief, anger and betrayal” in the force that an officer had been charged with the kidnap and murder of Ms Everard.

Serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with Ms Everard’s kidnapping and murder.