PM urges people to abide by Covid rules at planned vigil for Sarah Everard

12 March 2021, 12:56 | Updated: 13 March 2021, 11:20

A vigil for Sarah Everard is planned for tomorrow night
A vigil for Sarah Everard is planned for tomorrow night. Picture: PA
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The Prime Minister has urged anyone planning to attend a vigil for Sarah Everard to maintain social distancing and stick to Covid-19 rules.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister “completely understands the strength of feeling” around Sarah Everard’s disappearance but urged people to abide by Covid-19 restrictions.

The PM's official spokesman said: “He understands the strength of feeling around this case and nobody could fail to be moved by the experiences shared by many women since Sarah’s disappearance.

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“We are still in a pandemic, we would ask people to follow the rules and social distancing rules but we do understand the strength of feeling on this issue.”

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On Friday, Boris Johnson said he can "totally understand" why the death of Sarah Everard has triggered a "wave of feeling" on the issue of women's safety.

The Prime Minister told reporters at Queen's University Belfast: "Like everybody, I'm shocked and appalled about the news from the Met about Sarah Everard.

"I think that the whole country will be united in their feeling for her friends, her family and will share their shock and their grief.

"I can see, and I totally understand, why this has triggered such a wave of feeling on this issue - on the issue of safety of women and safety of the streets.

"And I want to echo very much what Priti Patel said, which is that no woman should walk our streets in fear - every woman should feel able to walk our streets in safety.

"As for the proposed vigil, as you know there is a case I think before the courts right now."

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It follows a heated debate over the planned event after organisers claimed the Metropolitan Police are threatening to fine anybody who attends.

The group behind the Reclaim These Street vigil, billed as a socially-distanced gathering for Saturday sunset on Clapham Common, is seeking a High Court order to allow the event to go ahead under human rights legislation.

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Pressed on whether people should attend or not, the No10 spokesman said: "He does completely understand the strength of feeling on this and we would ask that people continue to follow the rules and social distancing rules."

The group raised £30,000 in just under an hour via crowdfunding from supporters to prepare for possible fines and prosecution from the police.

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On Friday, police confirmed that human remains that were found in Kent woodland on Wednesday are those of Sarah Everard.

The search for evidence has now focused on military tunnels near the family garage of the suspect.

A Metropolitan Police Officer is currently being held in custody after being arrested for Sarah's murder after she went missing on March 3.

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Ahead of the vigil, a Metropolitan Police statement said: "We understand the public's strength of feeling and are aware of the statement issued by Reclaim These Streets with regard to a planned vigil for Sarah Everard in Clapham Common this weekend.

"We remain in discussion with the organisers about this event in light of the current Covid regulations."