CPS halts prosecution of six protesters for attending Sarah Everard vigil

·2 min read

The prosecution of six protesters for attending a vigil for Sarah Everard has been halted.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) informed the protesters’ lawyers that the prosecutions had been “discontinued” last week, The Observer reported.

In a statement to the PA news agency, the CPS said that the “legal test” for prosecution had not been met.

A CPS spokesperson said: “We have a duty to keep cases under continuous review and we concluded that our legal test for a prosecution was not met.”

The vigil took place on Clapham Common on March 13 last year.

The event had originally been organised by Reclaim These Streets, but was cancelled after the Met said it should not go ahead and no definitive answer on the matter was provided by the High Court.

However, people turned up throughout the day, and officers did not intervene for the first six hours while many came to lay flowers, with the Duchess of Cambridge also paying her respects.

By the evening, hundreds of people had gathered and refused to leave when asked by police, leading to clashes that saw protesters bundled to the ground and arrested.

The six protesters had been accused of breaking lockdown rules by attending the vigil.

Floral tributes left next to the bandstand in Clapham Common, London, for Sarah Everard (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
Floral tributes left next to the bandstand in Clapham Common, London, for Sarah Everard (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

One of them, Dania Al-Obeid, described the CPS’ decision to discontinue her case as a “victory“.

“This is a victory in its own right but it doesn’t hold the Met accountable for their actions at the vigil or for their decisions to criminalise me and others for standing up and speaking out over a year later,” she told The Observer.

She is now taking legal action against the Met over its policing of the vigil and conduct towards her.

Reacting to the decision, Met Police Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe said the force knows how important it is that people “voice their anger”.

“We know how important it was for people to remember Sarah Everard and voice their anger”, she said in a statement.

“Officers took very seriously their duty to safeguard the public during the pandemic and to balance this with the rights of individuals.”

The force added that a decision to pursue a prosecution is “entirely a matter for the CPS”.

Ms Everard was abducted, raped, and murdered by then-serving police officer Wayne Couzens on March 4 of last year.

Couzens, 49, was handed a whole life term for the crime, the first time the sentence had been imposed for a single murder of an adult not committed in the course of a terror attack.