Met Police to pay £10,000 damages to woman arrested at Sarah Everard vigil

The Metropolitan Police has agreed to pay £10,000 in damages to a woman arrested at the Sarah Everard vigil in Clapham, her solicitors have said.

Jennifer Edmunds was detained overnight and charged with breaching Covid restrictions at the Clapham Common gathering on March 13 2021, said Bhatt Murphy Solicitors.

The solicitors said the charges were dropped 15 months later, and Ms Edmunds sued 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.

Sarah Everard vigil court case
Jennifer Edmunds at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (James Manning/PA)

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

She said: “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 how it policed the gathering held to protest and mourn the kidnap, rape and murder of Ms Everard, 33, by serving Pc Wayne Couzens.

A planned socially distanced event proposed by Reclaim These Streets was cancelled when organisers were threatened by the force with £10,000 fines.

However, people turned up throughout the day, including the then Duchess of Cambridge.

By the evening, hundreds of people had gathered and refused to leave when asked by police, leading to clashes.

Sarah Everard
Sarah Everard (Family Handout/PA)

Photographs circulated of women being handcuffed on the ground, sparking anger.

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

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.

People clash with police as they gather at the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard
People clashed with police on Clapham Common (Victoria Jones/PA)

“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.”