Met to pay woman arrested at Sarah Everard vigil £10,000 after being sued - but maintains officers ‘acted in good faith’

14 March 2024, 06:23

The Met was criticised for its policing of the vigil.
The Met was criticised for its policing of the vigil. Picture: Alamy/PA

By Jenny Medlicott

The Met will pay £10,000 to a woman who was arrested at the Sarah Everard vigil in Clapham, her solicitors have said.

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Jennifer Edmunds was detained overnight and charged with breaching Covid restrictions at the Clapham Common vigil for Ms Everard on 13 March 2021.

Charges against her were dropped 15 months later and Ms Edmunds went on to sue the force for breaching her human rights, false imprisonment, assault, misfeasance in public office and malicious prosecutions.

The legal settlement was reached on February 5 this year after proceedings issued at Mayor's and City of London Court, they added.

Ms Edmunds said she will split the damages with pro-Palestine protesters "who have also been victims of police".

She said following the settlement: “While I am relieved for this to finally be over, three years after Sarah Everard's death, and almost three years after I was threatened with criminal charges for exercising my inalienable right to protest her murder, in that time I have also seen the state clamp down yet further on our collective freedom to assemble and demand change.”

The Met was heavily criticised for its response to the gathering held for Ms Everard, who was raped and murdered by officer Wayne Couzens, three years ago.

Jennifer Edmunds was arrested at the event three years ago.
Jennifer Edmunds was arrested at the event three years ago. Picture: PA

The event, originally organised by Reclaim These Streets, was held while Covid restrictions were in place but hundreds of people turned out to pay tributes for Sarah throughout the day and into the evening, including Kate Middleton.

Hundreds of people gathered in the evening and refused to leave when asked by police, leading to clashes.

Organisers were threatened with £10,000 fines.

Ms Edmunds was arrested at the vigil and refused to pay a fixed penalty notice for breaching Covid regulations.

She was charged with participating in a gathering of more than two people in a public outdoor place in a Tier 4 area.

The Met previously said it brought prosecutions against people who did not pay the fines for alleged Covid breaches at the vigil.

Police will pay Ms Edmunds £10,000.
Police will pay Ms Edmunds £10,000. Picture: Alamy
The vigil saw clashes with police.
The vigil saw clashes with police. Picture: Alamy

Erica San, solicitor for Jennifer Edmunds, said: "The Met's heavy-handed and insensitive policing of the Clapham Common vigil was a reflection of the institutional misogyny that the Casey Review sought to expose.

"The fact that it has taken three years to acknowledge the wrong done to Jeni - as with the many other cases which were brought after the vigil - is a sign of how deeply reluctant the force is to face its pressing need for reform."

A Met spokesperson said: "The officers involved acted in good faith, interpreting complex and changing legislation in very challenging circumstances.

"They acted in a way that was entirely consistent with their colleagues working across London at the time and the operational directions given by the relevant command teams.

"Their actions were found by His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services to have been appropriate and no misconduct was identified by our professional standards teams.

"The settlement that has been reached does not alter that position and the Met has no intention to revisit it.

"A protracted legal dispute was not in the interests of any party, and an agreed settlement reached."