Sadiq Khan: Sarah Everard vigil 'not policed properly' but confidence in Met chief remains

19 March 2021, 10:46 | Updated: 19 March 2021, 12:57

Sadiq Khan confronted on the policing at Sarah Everard vigil

By Maddie Goodfellow

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has told LBC he was "surprised and angry" when he saw a peaceful vigil for Sarah Everard descend into chaos but said his overall confidence in Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick "remains".

Speaking to James O'Brien during Speak to Sadiq on LBC, the Mayor was asked "what went wrong" at the vigil on Saturday.

Mr Khan said he was waiting for findings on reports into the incident, and went on to say that Dame Cressida "has my confidence and support but that doesn't mean it's always going to be 100 per cent," and reiterated his position that the vigil was not properly policed.

In ugly scenes last weekend, officers clashed with crowds gathered to remember Ms Everard, with further protests taking place in central London on Sunday and Monday police actions.

Police actions have been heavily criticised following the vigil, with some calling for Cressida Dick to resign.

Sadiq Khan explained: "The vigil was being organised not just by reclaim these streets but by women and girls and allies across London who wanted to remember Sarah and pay their respects.

"But also to shine a light on the serious issue of male violence against women and girls.

"A vigil is different from a protest, and I was clear before the vigil that the government and the police should work with organisers to ensure it could happen in a safe, lawful and peaceful way.

"And I was reassured by the Met Police service that the vigil would be policed sensitively."

Sadiq Khan: Sarah Everard vigil was an exceptional case

Mr Khan continued: "There was a court case on Friday, and what the judge said did not hold that all protests or vigils are banned. The door was left open for police and organisers to work together and come up with an accommodation.

"To be honest, I was surprised and angry at what I saw on Saturday night. It wasn't policed properly, and that is why i have asked two independent watchdogs to look into it."

Pushed by James O'Brien on what went wrong at the vigil, Mr Khan said: "There are two issues in my mind.

"The first is - did the police work hard enough with the organisers to ensure a vigil could take place lawfully and safely?

"The second is in relation to the conduct of the police on the night. I am the first to admit that the police have an invidious job when it comes to protests. But this vigil was exceptional and is very different to a protest taking place in lockdown."

He also commented on Kate Middleton going to pay her respects at Clapham Commons, saying it was "lawful".

Sadiq Khan says he has confidence in Cressida Dick

The Mayor was then asked whether he has confidence in Cressida Dick. Mr Khan replied: "Yes. I do have confidence in the Commissioner.

"I think it is possible to have both confidence in the Commissioner and think the vigil was not policed correctly.

"The Commissioner in the modern era is under more scrutiny than ever before in history and regularly appears before committees, ministers and the media.

"It is a tough, tough job. And she has my confidence and support but that doesn't mean it's always going to be 100%."

Dame Cressida Dick has ruled out resigning after last weekend's vigil ended in arrests and accusations of "manhandling" by police officers.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner told reporters she was "appalled" at what happened to Sarah Everard but she would not consider her position over clashes between officers and mourners.