Metropolitan Police Pay Substantial Damages To Women Arrest During Sarah Everard Vigil

Metropolitan Police Pay Substantial Damages To Women Arrest During Sarah Everard Vigil

By Lucy Caulkett-

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has recently settled a legal dispute by paying substantial damages to two women who were arrested during the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard.

Patsy Stevenson and Dania Al-Obeid took legal action against the MPS for their arrests during the protest, which occurred amid Covid restrictions.

The settlement, announced by the law firm representing the women, has spotlighted the importance of ensuring arrests are made on lawful grounds and serves as a vital lesson for law enforcement officers moving forward.

The arrests of Stevenson and Al-Obeid had garnered significant attention, not only due to the high-profile nature of the vigil but also because they raised questions about the legitimacy of police actions during such events.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the MPS acknowledged the exceptional circumstances surrounding the Clapham Common vigil. They noted that the event unfolded in the midst of a pandemic, with valid public health reasons necessitating restrictions on gatherings.

The vigil also occurred shortly after the tragic murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met officer.

The spokesperson explained that the MPS aimed to strike a balance between respecting the public’s right to protest and grieve and enforcing the necessary Covid legislation.

They defended the actions of individual officers, citing that a review by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies found their conduct appropriate.

The officers were said to have acted in good faith, interpreting complex and evolving legislation in challenging circumstances, consistent with their peers throughout London.

Despite this, the MPS chose to settle the legal dispute with Stevenson and Al-Obeid.

The spokesperson added, “A protracted legal dispute is not in the interests of any party, least of all the complainants who we recognize have already experienced significant distress as a result of this incident.

The most appropriate decision, to minimize the ongoing impact on all involved, was to reach an agreed settlement.”

The MPS also emphasized its ongoing commitment to improving safety for women and girls in London and building trust and confidence within communities towards the police service.

Vigil

The women both attended the vigil for Everard, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a serving Metropolitan police officer, in March 2021, when Covid restrictions on large gatherings were in place.

The image of Stevenson being pinned to the floor by officers as she was arrested sparked widespread fury and criticism among women, with its then commissioner Cressida Dick widely criticized.

A 2021 police inspectorate review into the event called the Met’s conduct “absolutely right”.

The pair launched legal claims against the Met under the Human Rights Act after prosecutors halted attempts by the Met to bring prosecutions against them and four others.

This settlement serves as a reminder to law enforcement officers everywhere that arrests should always be made on legitimate, lawful grounds.

In situations as delicate as public gatherings and protests, careful consideration must be given to the legality and necessity of such actions to avoid undue distress to those involved.

As discussions on policing tactics continue, the case of Patsy Stevenson and Dania Al-Obeid will likely remain a reference point for future events, underscoring the importance of upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and public safety in law enforcement practices.

 

Image:Reuters

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