Organisers of a planned vigil in response to Sarah Everard's suspected kidnap and murder are launching legal action, claiming police have reversed a decision to allow it to go ahead.
The Reclaim These Streets vigil, due to take place on Saturday on Clapham Common in south London, was organised after the disappearance of the 33-year-old sparked anger and debate around the safety of women on Britain's streets.
Everard vanished while walking home to Brixton, south London, from a friend's house in Clapham on 3 March.
Detectives searching for the marketing executive have since discovered human remains in Ashford, Kent, while a Metropolitan Police officer has been arrested on suspicion of kidnap and murder.
On Thursday Everard's family described her as a "shining example" who was "kind and strong".
Watch: British women demand safety following Sarah Everard case
Everard's disappearance has sparked an outcry of the safety of women in the UK.
On Wednesday night Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulescoomb suggested a 6pm curfew should be introduced for men, later adding that she had the comments to make a point so "men understand the pressure that women are under".
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has also floated the idea of a curfew for men but said it “wouldn’t be on the top of the list” of measures aimed at helping women feel safe and said it would be only a “temporary intervention”.
What time is the Reclaim the Streets vigil and where is it taking place?
The vigil was due to take place at 6pm on Saturday at Clapham Common bandstand in south-west London, not far from where Everard went missing on 3 March.
Sister vigils are also being organised by groups across the country, including in Bristol, Cambridge and Liverpool.
Organisers of the Clapham Common event said the location was in part chosen because it is a “wide open space” and they had emphasised wearing masks and the importance of social distancing as well as organising QR codes for NHS Test & Trace.
Streets should be safe for women regardless of what we wear, where we live or what time of day or night it is.
Join our socially-distanced vigil on Clapham Common at sunset this Saturday & we'll #ReclaimTheseStreets
Sign up, share & invite your friends: https://t.co/RY7jCeagz6 pic.twitter.com/439APiz47B
— Reclaim These Streets (@ReclaimTS) March 10, 2021
Is the Reclaim the Street vigil breaking COVID lockdown rules?
Under the current lockdown in England, people are required to stay at home and can only gather in large groups for specific reasons like funerals or for education.
Police can break up illegal gatherings and issue fines of £10,000 to someone holding a gathering of more than 30 people.
One of the vigil organisers Anna Birley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that planning for it had started on Wednesday and the group had “proactively” contacted Lambeth Council and the Metropolitan Police.
She said: “Initially, we had feedback that they were looking at ways to navigate this, that they would be looking at how they could proportionately and appropriately provide community policing to the event.
“And we were in conversation about how we could do that safely so that people could express their anger and their grief without putting themselves or others at risk."
But she said there had been an “about-face” by the Met Police and organisers have been told that Saturday’s event would not be permitted.
“We then had an about-face mid-afternoon yesterday. We were being put under increasing pressure that, individually, we would be at risk for doing so, but as would everybody who attended and all of the women across the country potentially who have been organising sister vigils in their own areas.”
The group said in a statement on Thursday evening that they would seek an order in the High Court on Friday, challenging the force’s interpretations of COVID restrictions when read against human rights law.
Scotland Yard said it understood the “public’s strength of feeling” and the Met remains in discussion with organisers “in light of the current COVID regulations”.
Where Sarah Everard went missing
Everard has not been seen since the night of March 3 when she walked home to Brixton, south London, from a friend's house in nearby Clapham.
The 33-year-old marketing executive crossed Clapham Common and was last seen on footage recorded at about 9.30am on a doorbell camera, walking along the A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill.
Who has been arrested over the disappearance of Sarah Everard?
A Metropolitan Police officer has been arrested on suspicion of murder and kidnap in relation to Sarah Everard's disappearance.
The unnamed Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command officer was arrested in Deal, Kent, on Tuesday night in a development described as "deeply disturbing" by a senior officer.
The officer, who was initially arrested on suspicion of kidnap on Tuesday then further arrested on suspicion of murder on Wednesday, was also detained over a separate allegation of indecent exposure.
Investigators believe he was not on duty at the time Everard vanished and the Met says it has made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
The Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command is responsible for guarding Parliament, Downing Street and embassies, and he was responsible for uniformed patrolling of diplomatic premises.
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