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Met Police under fire for ‘dreadful’ Covid prosecutions over Sarah Everard vigil

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Scotland Yard is bringing criminal cases against at least four people who turned up to the impromptu gathering at the bandstand on Clapham Common on March 13, 2021.

The event took place in one of the last places Ms Everard was seen alive, prior to being kidnapped and murdered by a serving police officer, but was eventually broken up by police using the emergency Covid restrictions.

The Evening Standard revealed on Wednesday that four people, Dania Al-Obeid, 27, from Stratford, east London, Vivien Hohmann, 20, of Clapham, Ben Wheeler, 21, from Kennington, and Manchester resident Kevin Godin-Prior, 68, all now face allegations that they broke the Tier 4 lockdown rules by attending the event.

Jamie Klingler, co-founder of the Reclaim These Streets (RTS) movement, reacted to the news by asking: “Why does the Met Police have a vendetta against women protesting a woman killed by a serving officer?

“Is this payback that we helped get Cressida Dick removed from office? How is wasting more public money prosecuting women that attended the vigil going to rebuild trust?”

When RTS first planned a vigil in the days after Ms Everard was murdered the Met objected to the event, citing Covid rules and threatening organisers including Ms Klingler with £10,000 fines if they pressed ahead.

The group ultimately cancelled the planned vigil – which would have included safety marshals, masks, and social distancing – but an impromptu event sprung up in the void, drawing a large crowd including the Duchess of Cambridge to the area around the bandstand.

The High Court later ruled the Met’s actions in blocking the organised vigil had been an unlawful infringement on the rights of assembly and expression, and the police force’s attempts to appeal were rejected on Tuesday this week.

Reclaim These Streets founders outside the Royal Courts of Justice, after judges ruled the Met Police beached the rights of the organisers of a planned vigil for Sarah Everard with its handling of the planned event (Yui Mok/PA)

/ PA Wire

Ms Klingler said their court battle had exposed the Met had been concerned about “reputational damage” rather than the Covid risk when it block the organised vigil, and the outcome of the legal battle had cast doubt on the police analysis of the Covid rules.

“It’s absolutely outrageous how they compound and compound their errors,” said Ms Klingler. “I can’t believe they still have the ability to shock me. I can’t believe they are still going on with this.

“Who is doing their comms? It’s just dreadful. Black eye after black eye after black eye. And they have done absolutely nothing to make women any safer.”

The four defendants are all accused of participating in a gathering of more than two people in a public outdoor place when London was under Tier 4 restrictions.

According to charges before Westminster magistrates court, it is said on March 13, 2021 at Clapham Common bandstand they were part of an unlawful gathering “without reasonable excuse”.

The prosecutions are due to be dealt with behind-closed-doors in the Single Justice Procedure, which has been used for the vast majority of prosecutions under Covid laws in London.

Among those outraged online was best-selling author E L James, who tweeted to say: “Why are these women subject to prosecution rather than a fixed penalty notice as per Downing Street?”

And barrister Pippa Woodrow, who acted in the Reclaim These Streets legal action, was among the lawyers offering to represent the defendants.

“I am extremely concerned that these proceedings are being conducted under the highly problematic single justice procedure,” she said. “They should not be. Those affected should have robust representation.”

The Met Police has been contacted for comment on the prosecutions.



Scotland Yard is bringing criminal cases against at least four people who turned up to the impromptu gathering at the bandstand on Clapham Common on March 13, 2021.

The event took place in one of the last places Ms Everard was seen alive, prior to being kidnapped and murdered by a serving police officer, but was eventually broken up by police using the emergency Covid restrictions.

The Evening Standard revealed on Wednesday that four people, Dania Al-Obeid, 27, from Stratford, east London, Vivien Hohmann, 20, of Clapham, Ben Wheeler, 21, from Kennington, and Manchester resident Kevin Godin-Prior, 68, all now face allegations that they broke the Tier 4 lockdown rules by attending the event.

Jamie Klingler, co-founder of the Reclaim These Streets (RTS) movement, reacted to the news by asking: “Why does the Met Police have a vendetta against women protesting a woman killed by a serving officer?

“Is this payback that we helped get Cressida Dick removed from office? How is wasting more public money prosecuting women that attended the vigil going to rebuild trust?”

When RTS first planned a vigil in the days after Ms Everard was murdered the Met objected to the event, citing Covid rules and threatening organisers including Ms Klingler with £10,000 fines if they pressed ahead.

The group ultimately cancelled the planned vigil – which would have included safety marshals, masks, and social distancing – but an impromptu event sprung up in the void, drawing a large crowd including the Duchess of Cambridge to the area around the bandstand.

The High Court later ruled the Met’s actions in blocking the organised vigil had been an unlawful infringement on the rights of assembly and expression, and the police force’s attempts to appeal were rejected on Tuesday this week.

Reclaim These Streets founders outside the Royal Courts of Justice, after judges ruled the Met Police beached the rights of the organisers of a planned vigil for Sarah Everard with its handling of the planned event (Yui Mok/PA)

/ PA Wire

Ms Klingler said their court battle had exposed the Met had been concerned about “reputational damage” rather than the Covid risk when it block the organised vigil, and the outcome of the legal battle had cast doubt on the police analysis of the Covid rules.

“It’s absolutely outrageous how they compound and compound their errors,” said Ms Klingler. “I can’t believe they still have the ability to shock me. I can’t believe they are still going on with this.

“Who is doing their comms? It’s just dreadful. Black eye after black eye after black eye. And they have done absolutely nothing to make women any safer.”

The four defendants are all accused of participating in a gathering of more than two people in a public outdoor place when London was under Tier 4 restrictions.

According to charges before Westminster magistrates court, it is said on March 13, 2021 at Clapham Common bandstand they were part of an unlawful gathering “without reasonable excuse”.

The prosecutions are due to be dealt with behind-closed-doors in the Single Justice Procedure, which has been used for the vast majority of prosecutions under Covid laws in London.

Among those outraged online was best-selling author E L James, who tweeted to say: “Why are these women subject to prosecution rather than a fixed penalty notice as per Downing Street?”

And barrister Pippa Woodrow, who acted in the Reclaim These Streets legal action, was among the lawyers offering to represent the defendants.

“I am extremely concerned that these proceedings are being conducted under the highly problematic single justice procedure,” she said. “They should not be. Those affected should have robust representation.”

The Met Police has been contacted for comment on the prosecutions.

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