Met Police decision not to investigate Downing Street party refuels anger among Sarah Everard vigil attendees

Met Police decision not to investigate Downing Street party refuels anger among Sarah Everard vigil attendees

People who attended a vigil in honour of the murdered woman Sarah Everard - which was broken up by a large police force - are incensed once more, after the Metropolitan Police said it would not be investigating the alleged Downing Street party that took place at the height of Covid restrictions last year.

Posting on social media, people have pointed out an apparent inconsistency in the force’s approach to enforcing Covid rules, given it intervened and arrested people at the peaceful event in March but has rejected calls to intervene in the government’s reported parties.

In March women attended a vigil in Clapham Common after Everard was killed. At the time, gatherings were prohibited due to Covid rules and police flooded the bandstand in the park, encouraging people to disperse.

Pictures circulated at the time showed the police physically intervening and witnesses said their approach had been heavy-handed.

At the time, Bindmans solicitor Rachel Harger told the BBC the Met had claimed taking part in the vigil was a criminal act, which was “wrong in law... seriously ill-advised and entirely unnecessary”.

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“The decision by officers to then move to heavy-handed physical enforcement of the coronavirus regulations in order to arbitrarily arrest Patsy... showed utter contempt for her rights to privacy, freedom of expression and freedom to assemble and associate,” she said.

Meanwhile, people called for Met police commissioner Cressida Dick to resign. An independent investigation into the force’s decisions on the evening of the vigil, commissioned by home secretary Priti Patel said the police “acted appropriately” but a parliamentary inquiry later in the year said police breached “fundamental rights” at the vigil.

On the other hand, allegations that the government hosted a number of parties while the country faced coronavirus restrictions have emerged over the last week have failed to elicit a similar response.

The Met has said it will not investigate allegations that restrictions were broken at a specific party at 10 Downing Street dated 18 December 2020, stating that there was an “absence of evidence” and that the force has a policy stopping it from historical allegations of breaches of Covid regulations.

However, referring to cabinet secretary Simon Case’s inquiry into the matter, the statement said: “If any evidence is found as a result of that investigation, it will be passed to the Met for further consideration.”

Noticing the difference, here’s how people have reacted:

Patsy Stevenson, who was arrested at the vigil - with a photo of her being handcuffed and held down going viral at the time - said:

indy100 has contacted the Metropolitan Police for comment on this story.

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