Related video: Sarah Everard vigil organisers 'feel vindicated' following High Court ruling against Met ...
The Metropolitan Police has once again attracted controversy after it was revealed they will challenge a court ruling on their handling of a vigil for Sarah Everard for the second time.
The campaign group Reclaim These Streets won a High Court challenge last month over the Met’s actions during the event in March 2021, which they said amounted to a breach of their rights to free speech and assembly.
The organisers were threatened with arrests and £10,000 fines under Covid laws at the time, leading to them cancelling the planned vigil for the murdered Ms Everard.
An unorganised gathering took place, however, which led to widespread criticism of the police response.
Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate agreed and upheld the group’s argument, saying the decisions by the Met prior to the vigil were “not in accordance with the law”.
When Scotland Yard sought to appeal the court’s decision the first time, it was rejected by the two judges, who said it had “no reasonable prospect of success” and amounted to “hopeless attempts to challenge reasoned factual conclusions”.
Other scathing remarks issued by the High Court included there being no “compelling reason for an appeal to be heard” and that their objection had “no merit” and “[lacked] coherence”.
They also said some claims put forward by the Met were “unarguable in law or involve selective and misleading analysis of aspects of the judgment”.
“It is not permissible for the [Metropolitan Police] to re-argue the same points in order to submit that it is highly likely that the outcome would have been the same,” the ruling added.
Despite this, the Met have confirmed they plan to challenge the ruling again, this time taking the case to the Court of Appeal.
Reclaim These Streets were amongst those who criticised the latest decision on social media:
We can now announce that @metpoliceuk are spending more taxpayer money to continue to fight us in court. Despite the High Court\u2019s vehement rejection of their \u201chopeless\u201dapplication for permission to appeal,they are now trying to appeal to the Court of Appeal. Will it never end?
— Reclaim These Streets (@Reclaim These Streets)
There is no accountability. Part of the reason the @metpoliceuk has lost the confidence of the women in the capitol is that nothing has been learned from the last 13 months. Who is even making the decision to attempt another appeal?https://news.sky.com/story/sarah-everard-vigil-metropolitan-police-seeking-second-appeal-against-high-court-ruling-12602231\u00a0\u2026
This is just getting ridiculous now. There\u2019s something seriously wrong with their priorities. It\u2019s insulting to Londoners, wasting taxpayers money better spent on keeping the city safe & eats away into already plunging public confidence in the Met.https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-61276743\u00a0\u2026
This is, quite frankly, outrageous. And if you don\u2019t find it so you need to think long and hard about what freedoms you are willing to lose\u2026https://twitter.com/reclaimts/status/1520048688881668096\u00a0\u2026
In a statement responding to Reclaim These Streets’ tweet, the Metropolitan Police’s events team wrote: “The force said in a statement: “The reason we’re appealing this case is that we believe there are important points of principle around the role of police in advising organisers ahead of a proposed event and whether that should involve an assessment of the importance of the cause.
@ReclaimTS The reason we\u2019re appealing this case is that we believe there are important points of principle around the role of police in advising organisers ahead of a proposed event and whether that should involve an assessment of the importance of the cause. 1/4
“We believe that clarity around these issues is of the utmost importance both for citizens and their right to free expression, and for the police in how they enforce legal restrictions while remaining neutral to the cause behind the event itself.
“This appeal is not about the policing of the vigil itself, but about the decisions and communications with Reclaim These Streets ahead of the planned event last March.”
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