Three fined for attending Sarah Everard's vigil during Covid rules

9 June 2022, 11:38

Three people were fined over the vigil
Three people were fined over the vigil. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Three people have been fined for going to Sarah Everard's vigil on Clapham Common last year.

Police broke up the gathering at the bandstand when they said it breached Covid rules at the time.

London was under Tier 4, banning a gathering of more than two people, when the vigil for the murdered 33-year-old marketing executive went ahead on March 13.

Visitors turned up despite organisers backing out when they were threatened with £10,000 fines.

Dania Al-Obeid, 27, from Stratford, east London, Ben Wheeler, 21, from Kennington, south London, and Kevin Godin-Prior, 68, from Manchester, were all fined £220 and given £134 in costs.

The policing of the vigil sparked anger at police, who were accused of being heavy handed in how they broke up what began as a peaceful tribute to Ms Everard.

Her disappearance and death triggered renewed outcry over women's safety, and the Met's actions on Clapham Common were put in further bad light when it emerged one of their own officers kidnapped, raped and killed her.

Some of the visitors at the vigil were photographed being pinned to the ground in handcuffs.

Police broke up the vigil last year
Police broke up the vigil last year. Picture: Alamy

No pleas or representations were entered by the three defendants, who were convicted in their absence using the Single Justice Procedure, a way of speeding up trials after Covid created a backlog of cases.

Prosecutors and defendants do not need to attend court for the hearing, and instead manage it via correspondence.

Previously, Ms Al-Obeid, who was taking legal advice over the fine, said: "This isn't about the £200, I've had people come forward and offer to pay this. It's about what this fine represents.

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

"I've requested any updates regarding the fine to be made via email as I'm not in the country, however the first I hear of this charge is via the media.

"It's been dealt with so poorly from start to finish and I'm just expected to roll over and accept this treatment. I'm considering fighting this as it's simply not fair."

The Met has said Jade Spence, 33, of Lambeth, and Jenny Edmunds, 32, of Lewisham, are due to be dealt with on June 15.

Cases have been brought to court because the fines issued for alleged breaches of Covid rules were not paid, the force said, and a total of nine fixed penalty notices were issued.

Sarah Everard was killed by a serving Met police officer
Sarah Everard was killed by a serving Met police officer. Picture: Alamy

Two were paid, and another was dropped with no further action.

Previously, a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services found police "acted appropriately" when dealing with the vigil.

But it also found it was a "public relations disaster".

Read more: Sarah Everard killer Wayne Couzens pleads not guilty to indecent exposure charges

On Tuesday, the Met was refused permission to appeal for a second time against a High Court ruling which concluded it breached the rights of the Reclaim These Streets organisers who wanted to put the vigil on before backing out under threat of a hefty fine.

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

The group argued the decisions before the vigil amounted to a breach of their human rights to freedom of speech and assembly, and said the force did not assess the potential risk to public health.