Four people who attended Sarah Everard vigil charged with 'breaking covid rules'

1 June 2022, 13:44 | Updated: 1 June 2022, 13:48

The four people attending the Sarah Everard vigil on March 13 last year
The four people attending the Sarah Everard vigil on March 13 last year. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Four people have been charged for allegedly breaking Covid lockdown rules at a vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard.

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The spontaneous vigil took place at Clapham Common on March 13 last year.

The Met Police received criticism from across the political spectrum after women were handcuffed on the ground and led away by officers at the vigil.

Reclaim These Streets had proposed a socially distanced vigil for the 33-year-old, who was murdered by former Met officer Wayne Couzens.

However, this did not go ahead as organisers were told by the force they would face fines of £10,000 each and possible prosecution, and the spontaneous event took place instead.

Prosecutions are now taking place against four people who allegedly breached Covid rules by taking part that evening.

READ MORE: Met Police breached rights of Sarah Everard vigil organisers, High Court rules

READ MORE: Met to appeal High Court ruling that it breached Sarah Everard vigil organisers' rights

Dania Al-Obeid, 27, from Stratford; Vivien Hohmann, 20, of Clapham; Ben Wheeler, 21, from Kennington and Kevin Godin-Prior, 68, of Manchester are all charged with participating in a gathering of more than two people in a public outdoor place in a Tier 4 area.

The charges before Westminster Magistrates’ Court say they allegedly gathered on "Saturday 13 March, 2021 at Clapham Common bandstand without reasonable excuse and other than as permitted by the regulations".

The four allegedly "participated in a gathering in the Tier 4 area of London, taking place in a public outdoor space as defined in paragraph 4(4) of Schedule 3A to the regulations, namely Clapham Common bandstand and consisting of more than two people".

It comes after the Met Police was refused permission to appeal for a second time against a High Court ruling which concluded the force breached the rights of organisers of the vigil with its handling of the original planned event.

The four women who founded Reclaim These Streets and planned the vigil brought a legal challenge against the force over its handling of the event.

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

After considering an application on papers - without a hearing - by the Met to challenge the ruling at the Court of Appeal, the judges refused the force permission to bring an appeal in April.

The Met then further pursued a challenge by asking the Court of Appeal to grant permission, but that was rejected in writing on Tuesday.

Dismissing the appeal bid, Lord Justice Holroyde said in a court order that, while he recognised the application of principles guiding the right to protest "may be difficult for the police", they were "clear" and no separate guidance is needed.

The judge said he could see "no arguable basis on which it can be said that the (High) Court's decision was wrong".

The decision means the force will not be able to further challenge the High Court ruling.

Couzens, 49, was given a whole life sentence, from which he will never be released, at the Old Bailey in September after admitting Ms Everard's murder.