Sarah Everard vigil: London mayor Sadiq Khan ‘not satisfied’ with Cressida Dick’s explanation of police actions

Khan orders ‘full independent investigation’ into events at Clapham Common

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 14 March 2021 16:35
Home Office minister dodges question on Met chief's position following vigil

Sadiq Khan has said he is “not satisfied” with Cressida Dick’s explanation into police action during a vigil for Sarah Everard, as Priti Patel said there will “still questions to be answered” after receiving an official report.

As the Metropolitan commissioner faced calls to resign, both the London mayor and home secretary requested a full independent investigation by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary into the “completely unacceptable” scenes at Clapham Common on Saturday evening.

After summoning Ms Dick alongside her deputy to a meeting at City Hall, Mr Khan said in a statement: “I am not satisfied with the explanation they have provided”.

He added will now ask Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to “conduct a full independent investigation of events yesterday evening and in previous days” alongside a separate probe into the actions of police officers.

“It is vital that these events are not allowed to undermine the powerful calls since Sarah’s murder for meaningful action to finally stop men inflicting violence on women,” he said.

“It was clear before yesterday that there isn’t adequate trust and confidence from women and girls in the police and criminal justice system more widely. Further steps must now be taken to address this.”

Ms Patel had demanded the Met commissioner send her a full report after criticism from politicians of all stripes, who spoke out against the distressing scenes at the south London vigil.

Four arrests were made and several individuals were forcibly pulled away while at least one young woman was restrained on the floor by two officers.

But in a statement, a Home Office spokesperson said: “The home secretary has read the report provided by the Metropolitan Police and feels there are still questions to be answered.

“In the interests of ensuring public confidence in the police, earlier this afternoon the Home Secretary asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to conduct a lessons learned review into the policing of the event at Clapham Common.”

On Sunday, the Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey doubled down on his call for Ms Dick to step down as commissioner, saying scenes were “utterly disgraceful and shame the Metropolitan Police”.

Sir Keir Starmer said he was “very disturbed” at police action at Clapham Common and said women should have been given permission to hold the vigil “in peace”.

Asked whether Ms Dick should resign, however, the Labour leader said: “I don’t think Cressida Dick should resign – we need to see the reports that have now been called for.”

Dame Vera Baird, the victims commissioner for England and Wales, told Sky News the decision of police to “push people away” at the vigil “seems to me to be a dreadful piece of misjudgement”, as she described the circling of the bandstand in Clapham Common as “quasi military”.

And she said: “Are they really improving the chances of Covid not spreading by putting their knees in the middle of the back of young women, and putting their hands in handcuffs? It didn’t seem to me to be the right thing to do.”

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