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

18 March 2022, 18:07 | Updated: 18 March 2022, 20:57

The founders withdrew from organising the vigil after being threatened with £10,000 fines and possible prosecution
The founders withdrew from organising the vigil after being threatened with £10,000 fines and possible prosecution. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

The Met will appeal a High Court ruling that it breached the rights of organisers behind a Sarah Everard vigil.

The force, which has come under sustained criticism over how it policed during the Covid lockdowns, confirmed on Friday it would challenge the decision.

"It's important for policing and the public that we have absolute clarity of what’s expected of us in law," a statement said.

"This is why we feel we must seek permission to appeal the judgment in order to resolve what’s required by law when policing protests and events in the future."

Two senior judges had upheld a claim by the founders of Reclaim These Streets, a women's safety group, that the force's decisions before the planned event were "not in accordance with the law".

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However, the four women, Jessica Leigh, Anna Birley, Henna Shah and Jamie Klingler, withdrew from organising the event – a socially-distanced vigil on Clapham Common, South London, not far from where Ms Everard was abducted – after being told they faced £10,000 fines and potential prosecution.

It was due to take place in March 2021.

The Met hinted it would appeal when the judgement was published last week and confirmed it will do so on Friday.

The statement also said: "It's absolutely right that we are held to account for our actions and that there is proper scrutiny of the decisions we make as a police force in upholding legislation and maintaining public order.

"We also respect the strong views held by Reclaim These Streets in defence of human rights and public protest, and their pursuit of justice for these views.

"As an organisation we work with, support and police hundreds of protests and events across London every day, and take our responsibilities under the Human Rights Act in doing so, very seriously."

Reclaim These Streets co-founder Jessica Klingler tweeted: "I'm not going to pretend I am not furious.

"I was stood outside of Stoke Newington Police Station when I heard they filed permission to appeal. They want us to give up. They want to exhaust us. F*** that. Learn the law."