As it happenedended1615851823

Sarah Everard vigil: Arrests as protesters march through central London

Follow the latest developments as they happened

Crowds gather outside of Scotland Yard to mourn Sarah Everard

Police gave demonstrators an ultimatum to go home immediately or face being arrested as dozens were stopped over breaching coronavirus restrictions.

Hundreds of people gathered in Parliament Square for the demonstration at about 5pm before marching across London.

A large number of protesters blocked off traffic on Westminster Bridge to demonstrate as Reclaim These Streets campaigners chanted and held banners and police officers halted oncoming cars.

The police watchdog has confirmed it is launching two new separate investigations relating to the Sarah Everard case, following referrals from the Metropolitan Police.

One will look into allegations that a Metropolitan Police constable, who was stationed at a cordon in Kent as part of the ongoing search operation, shared an “inappropriate graphic” with colleagues.

The other will examine how Wayne Couzens, the serving Metropolitan Police officer charged with Ms Everard’s kidnap and murder, came to sustain head injuries while in custody.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live blog following the latest developments on the Sarah Everard case as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to meet with Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick amid backlash over her force’s response to a vigil held on Saturday.

Chantal Da Silva15 March 2021 07:47
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Boris Johnson to chair meeting with Cressida Dick

Prime Minister Boris is expected to meet with Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and others today to discuss how to better protect women and girls from violence.

The meeting, which will involve the Government’s Crime and Justice Taskforce, comes as Ms Dick continues to face calls to resign over her force’s response to a vigil held on Saturday in Sarah Everard’s memory.

Mr Johnson has said he was left “deeply concerned” after watching footage of police cracking down on the event, with officers being seen forcefully removing vigil attendees from a bandstand and pushing multiple people to the ground.

So far, Ms Dick has resisted calls to resign from her role.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel has asked the chief inspector of constabulary to conduct a “lessons learned” review of the police response to the vigil, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan has requested multiple investigations into the incident.  

Chantal Da Silva15 March 2021 07:57
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Government has been ‘ignoring violence against women’, Sarah Jones says

Labour MP for Croydon Central and Shadow Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Sarah Jones has said she believes the government has been “ignoring violence against women”.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Monday, Ms Jones said she believed it was time for the government to take action, rather than only discussing the need to address violence against women and girls.

“The time has come to do something about violence against women and girls because all of the numbers are going in the wrong direction,” Ms Jones said.

“It’s time for action now, not time for more talking,” she said.

Her comments came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepared to chair a meeting today with Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and others on how to better protect women and girls from violence.

Chantal Da Silva15 March 2021 08:04
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Police would have been criticised if they hadn’t stepped in at vigil, Sir Peter Fahy says

Former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Sir Peter Martin Fahy has said that he believes Met Police officers likely would have faced criticism if they had not intervened in the vigil held on Saturday for Sarah Everard.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Monday, Sir Peter was asked how police could have handled the situation better.

“[They] could have made a decision not to intervene at all,” he said. However, the former chief constable said he believed officers “probably would have been criticised” for not preventing the spread of Covid-19.

Chantal Da Silva15 March 2021 08:13
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Patsy Stevenson says she was ‘terrified’ when police pinned her to the ground at vigil

Patsy Stevenson, a vigil attendee who has made headlines after she was photographed being forced to the ground by police at the event, has said she still does not understand why police responded to the event so forcefully.

“I still don't know why I was pushed to the ground quite forcefully,” she said, speaking on Good Morning Britain.

The vigil attendee said she was “terrified” when police pinned her to the ground.

She further said that she and other attendees had been socially distancing while they stood on the bandstand and started pulling women off the stage.

“It was distanced until he police came,” she said.

Chantal Da Silva15 March 2021 08:19
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Patsy Stevenson says she is not ‘against police’ and wants 'dialogue’

Patsy Stevenson, a vigil attendee who was photographed being pinned to the ground by police officers, says she is “not against” the police and simply wants a dialogue with law enforcement.

“I'm not against police,” she said, “but, you know, the organisers were trying to get it so the police were involved in a safe way,” she said of Saturday’s vigil for Sarah Everard.

The university student said that all she and others wanted “was for women to be able to mourn and share each other’s company in a safe space”.

Many who attended the event, she said, were “angry” that police prevented them from doing that by seeking to shut down the event.

Still, she said that she wanted to “get the message away from ‘we’re against the police’” and instead promote a “dialogue for change” between those who attended the vigil and law enforcement.

Chantal Da Silva15 March 2021 08:24
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‘I’m not an actress’, Patsy Stevenson says, addressing social media claims

Patsy Stevenson dismissed claims that have been circulating on social media that she is an “actress”.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Ms Stevenson acknowledged that she had an account on a website for up-and-coming actors, but said it was an “old” account and that she has since moved on to focus on her studies at university.

“I understand social media is a very fast thing and people are going to search,” the 28-year-old, who is currently studying physics, said.

“I’m not an actress,” she clarified.

As an “an ambassador for women in STEM” at her school, however, she said has been actively involved in promoting women’s rights for awhile now.

Chantal Da Silva15 March 2021 08:32
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Minister for policing ‘grateful’ to Patty Stevenson for wanting to talk to police

Kit Malthouse, minister for policing, has said that he is “grateful” to Patty Stevenson for her willingness to have a dialogue with the Met Police.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Monday, Mr Malthouse responded to comments from Ms Stevenson, who made headlines after being photographed being pinned to the ground by police officers at Saturday’s vigil.

Earlier on in the show, Ms Stevenson had said that she wanted to move away from the message that vigil attendees are “against the police” and instead promote a “dialogue for change” with law enforcement”.

“I was grateful for what she said,” Mr Malthouse said.

Chantal Da Silva15 March 2021 08:43
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Policing minister says ‘the law is clear’ on mass assemblies

Policing minister Kit Malthouse has said that when it comes to whether Saturday’s vigil for Sarah Everard should have been allowed to move forward, “the law is clear”.

“In these circumstances, the law is clear that mass assemblies are illegal,” he said, speaking on Good Morning Britain.

Noting that the organisers of the “Reclaim These Streets” vigil, which had originally been expected to take place in Clapham Common, cancelled the event after police refused to allow it to move forward legally, Mr Malthouse said that the impromptu vigil that took place instead was an “informal gathering”.

“I support the fact that the police determined that the assembly would be illegal,” he said.

He said that an investigation into the police response to the vigil would look deeper into the “dynamics” of the gathering and how law enforcement handled it.

“This investigation will examine...what happened and the decision-making,” he said.

Chantal Da Silva15 March 2021 08:56
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Patsy Stevenson: ‘I’ve never been so scared’

Patsy Stevenson has said that she had only gone to lay flowers and pay her respects to Sarah Everard at Clapham Common on Saturday, when she became caught up in clashes with police officers.

In the days since, images of the university student being pinned to the ground by police have been splashed across front pages.

Now, she has revealed that she has “never been so scared” as the moment she was pulled away from a bandstand in the park and “pushed to the ground” by officers.

Zoe Tidman has more:

Patsy Stevenson says she just went to lay flowers before arrest at Sarah Everard vigil

‘I still don’t know why I was pushed to the ground so forcefully,’ she says

Chantal Da Silva15 March 2021 09:06

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