Sarah Everard: Kate Middleton arrives at Clapham Common to join mourners

1 month ago 22

Priti Patel has called for a 'full report' from Metropolitan Police after officers manhandled screaming women amid extraordinary clashes at a vigil to mourn the death of Sarah Everard.

Hundreds of people defied lockdown to gather without social distancing before shocking scenes of violence broke out in Clapham Common, South London.

The Home Secretary revealed she has asked the force for a 'full report' following 'upsetting' footage widely circulated online after an estimated 1,500 people gathered for an unofficial vigil to mourn the death of the 33-year-old marketing executive.

Dozens of police officers moving in on the bandstand to block access to speakers sparked tensions in the crowd and mourners started chanting 'arrest your own' and 'shame on you' as scenes quickly turned violent.

Officers pinned women to the ground to handcuff them - and London Mayor Sadiq Khan later slammed the police's 'unacceptable' response as 'neither appropriate nor proportionate'.

He added that he was in contact with Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick. Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, led calls for Commissioner Dick's resignation, adding: 'Cressida Dick has lost the confidence of the millions of women in London and should resign.'  

Earlier this afternoon, during more peaceful scenes, a maskless Duchess of Cambridge made a brief and unannounced visit to Clapham Common to join mourners laying flowers in tribute to Miss Everard. 

Kensington Palace said Kate Middleton 'remembers what it was like to walk around London at night before she was married' and 'wanted to pay her respects to the family and to Sarah', according to Sky News.   

The visit came after a planned vigil was cancelled, with organisers citing the police's 'lack of constructive engagement' to help make it Covid secure. Instead, officers gathered in force to break up the growing crowds.  

Hundreds of mourners, estimated at around 1,500, defied lockdown rules to gather to lay tributes at the bandstand in Clapham Common - near where Miss Everard was last seen alive before her disappearance. 

Footage posted to social media this evening showed a tussle between Met Police officers and some of the crowd as some shouted 'you are scum' following the brief clash. One woman screamed 'you're supposed to protect us' as others chanted 'the sisters united will never be defeated'.

Politicians from across all three political parties tonight condemned the scenes which are expected to throw a spotlight on Commissioner Dick's handling of the force.

Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer, Liberal Democrats' Sir Ed and Conservative MP Steve Baker were among parliamentarians to condemn the heavy-handed approach, as Mr Baker called events in Clapham 'unspeakable scenes'.  

Met Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh disputed the criticism as he said: 'Politicians of all parties should make themselves aware of all the facts before rushing to judgement and making statements.' 

Police officers kept watch from the bandstand in Clapham Common on Saturday night as clashes continued

People clash with police during a gathering at a memorial site in Clapham Common

Clashes broke out between protesters and police officers as the night wore on 

Dozens of floral tributes have been left on Clapham Common as mourners have gathered to pay their respects where Sarah Everard was last seen before her disappearance on March 3

Kensington Palace said Kate (pictured) 'wanted to pay her respects to the family and to Sarah', reported Sky. 'She remembers what is was like to walk around London at night before she was married,' the palace added

The unexpected visit came after a planned vigil was cancelled, with organisers citing the Met Police's 'lack of constructive engagement' to help make it Covid secure

Earlier today, mourners broke down in tears as they paid their respects to the 33-year-old marketing manager who disappeared on her way home from visiting a friend on March 3. 

It comes a day after Scotland Yard confirmed human remains found in Kent belonged to Ms Everard. Today serving police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, was remanded in custody after appearing in Westminster Magistrates' court charged with kidnap and murder. 

The court heard Miss Everard's body was found inside a builder's bag and identified through the use of dental records.  

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds light a candle on the doorstep in memory of Sarah 

Candles have been lit on doorsteps and in windows in tribute to Sarah Everard.

From the doorstep of Number 10 Downing Street to the homes of celebrities and activists, the 33-year-old was remembered on Saturday evening.

The simple act of lighting a candle had been promoted by the Reclaim These Streets group after in-person vigils in honour of Ms Everard and all women they described as 'lost to violence' were cancelled amid coronavirus restrictions.

A candle lit by Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds was placed on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street.

The Prime Minister had earlier said he 'cannot imagine how unbearable' the pain and grief is for Ms Everard's family and friends.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria were pictured holding a candle outside their home in north London during the doorstep vigil.

Labour MP Jess Phillips said she is feeling 'sad and angry and determined'.

She tweeted: 'I am on my doorstep. Sad and angry and determined that our lives and our liberty have got to matter more than they do today. Tonight is for Sarah, her family and all who feel the loss.'

Actor Richard E Grant tweeted a video of himself with his eyes closed beside a candle, with a caption stating Ms Everard's name alongside several heartbreak emojis.

It's A Sin actor Keeley Hawes tweeted: 'In memory of Sarah Everard Thinking of her and her loved ones.'

Following controversial scenes in Clapham, where police officers clashed with some of those attending a gathering in memory of Ms Everard, television presenter Kirstie Allsopp said the act of lighting a candle 'still matters'.

She tweeted: 'It still matters that we light a candle at 9.30. I know it feels like a small thing in the face of so much. But please go and find your candle now.'

During the impromptu vigil, an unnamed anti-lockdown protester had to be escorted away by police officers after he stood on the bandstand to rant about not being able to see his friends. He was met with a chorus of shouts as one woman screamed 'this isn't about you' and another added 'this woman has died'. 

As scenes turned violent after sunset, politicians joined forces to condemn the Met Police's approach. Liberal Democrats deputy leader Daisy Cooper tweeted that the scenes in Clapham were 'disgusting and completely avoidable'.

The Home Secretary Ms Patel tweeted: 'Some of the footage circulating online from the vigil in Clapham is upsetting. I have asked the Metropolitan Police for a full report on what happened. My thoughts remain with Sarah's family and friends at this terrible time.' 

London Mayor Mr Khan tweeted: 'The scenes from Clapham Common are unacceptable. The police have a responsibility to enforce Covid laws but from images I've seen it's clear the response was at times neither appropriate nor proportionate. I'm contact with the Commissioner & urgently seeking an explanation.'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: 'The scenes in Clapham this evening are deeply disturbing. Women came together to mourn Sarah Everard - they should have been able to do so peacefully. I share their anger and upset at how this has been handled. This was not the way to police this protest.' 

Earlier in the day he tweeted: 'Tonight I will light a candle for Sarah Everard. The whole country's thoughts are with Sarah's friends and family at this awful time.

'Violence against women and girls is still far too common. I will do everything I can to help make our streets safe and to end this injustice.'

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn shared a picture of candles on his windowsill, tweeting: 'Women must be safe on our streets. Solidarity with Sarah. Women must be safe to walk peacefully everywhere.'

'The Met Police must answer for their actions at Clapham Common this evening,' he added.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has called for Dame Cressida to 'consider' her leadership of the force.

In a letter to the Commissioner, he wrote: 'The scenes this evening of the policing of the Clapham Common vigil in memory of Sarah Everard are utterly disgraceful and shame the Metropolitan Police.

'The vigil this evening was a peaceful one brought together in the most horrific of circumstances.

'Across the country, countless women have told their own painful stories of harassment and abuse. Your officers should have been standing in solidarity with those on Clapham Common tonight not being ordered to disrupt this display of grief and peaceful protest.

'This was a complete abject tactical and moral failure on the part of the Police.

'We therefore call on you to consider your leadership of the service and whether you can continue to have the confidence of the millions of women in London that you have a duty to safeguard and protect.'

Conservative candidate for London mayor Shaun Bailey said: 'The scenes at Sarah Everard's vigil in Clapham tonight are horrifying.

'With ultimate responsibility for policing and public safety in London, the Mayor must immediately explain how these events were allowed to unfold.

'If Sadiq Khan wasn't involved in tonight's operational decision making, given the significance of tonight's vigil, he should have made sure he was.

'If he was involved - he has serious questions to answer.'

Fellow London Mayor hopeful Laurence Fox wrote: 'Appalling and heavy handed policing of a vigil to a murdered woman in London. The public cannot maintain trust in a police force that is seen to be applying different set of rules to different protests depending on the political motivation of the protest.' 

Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy tweeted footage of the clashes at Clapham Common. 'This could have been the socially distanced vigil the community needed to remember Sarah and all the women who have lost their lives to violence. We knew what was going to happen if the event was shut down.'

She added: 'I know Lambeth Borough officers made efforts to compromise with the organisers but were overruled from high up.'They'll be left to deal with the fallout of this and the further burden it places on already strained community relationships. Very disappointing from Scotland Yard.'

Hundreds of mourners defied social distancing to gather at Clapham Common on Saturday night

A woman was arrested by a police officer in Clapham Common this evening as police tried to break it up 

A woman was pinned to the ground as she was handcuffed by officers in Clapham Common on Saturday evening

Fights broke out as people battled against police officers on Saturday evening in Clapham Common

Women shouted at police as they gathered near the bandstand in Clapham Common this evening

Police officers blocked people from accessing the bandstand as those in the crowd held up candles

Police attempt to break up a vigil for Ms Everard at the bandstand on Clapham Common

The bandstand was surrounded by flowers laid three-foot deep as people gathered for a vigil

Crowds gathered around the bandstand in Clapham Common on Saturday in a peaceful vigil ahead of the unrest 

The vigil was planned for Saturday in memory of marketing executive Sarah Everard, who disappeared while walking home to Brixton on March 3

One video posted online showed Metropolitan Police officers grabbing women stood within the bandstand in Clapham Common before leading them away, to screaming and shouting from onlookers. 

'This isn't about you': Anti-lockdown protester interrupts Sarah Everard vigil to complain about not being allowed to meet up with his friends 

An anti-lockdown protester interrupted a vigil for Sarah Everard in London this evening.

The unknown man stood on a bandstand surrounded by hundreds of bouquets of flowers and other tributes left for the marketing executive.

He shouted: 'We should be free to move, to visit friends, to be on the streets.' The rest of his words were drowned out by the crowd.

The unknown man (pictured) stood on a bandstand surrounded by hundreds of bouquets of flowers and other tributes

Photographs show the moment the man was escorted away from the vigil by a number of police officers

He was met with a chorus of shouting as mourners told him: 'This isn't about you'.

One woman screamed: 'A woman has died.'

Others told him to shut up, with one man adding 'it's about women you idiot' before batting away another man's hand as they tried to calm him down.

Photographs show the moment the man was escorted away from the vigil by a number of police officers. 

Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey tweeted: 'The MET police have acted terribly and caused great harm and hurt. Millions of women are angry and in grief, Sarah Everard's horrific murder and the millions of acts of assault women face every day are why women created this vigil.'

He added: 'I am an ally. #ReclaimTheseStreets.'

Conservative MP Steve Baker described events in Clapham as 'unspeakable scenes'.

'You need to change lockdown law now @BorisJohnson,' he tweeted.

Mr Baker has been a prominent campaigner from the backbenches for a faster loosening of coronavirus restrictions than planned by the Government. 

Conservative MP Caroline Nokes wrote: 'Truly shocked at the scenes from Clapham Common - in this country we police by consent - not by trampling the tributes to a woman who was murdered and dragging other women to the ground. Badly misjudged by #metpolice'

Labour MP Harriet Harman wrote: 'Met mishandled vigil plan from the outset. They should have reached agreement. Terrible scenes in Clapham. I don't want to see any of these women in court.'

Another, MP Paula Barker, said: 'These scenes of Police manhandling women who had come to mourn the death of Sarah Everard are deeply disturbing. Serious questions need to be raised.'

And Labour MP David Lammy added: 'Women should have been able to mourn the death of Sarah Everard in peace. The images of male police officers manhandling women at this moment of national trauma are distressing. The way this was policed was wrong and lessons must be learned.' 

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds described the scenes in Clapham as 'deeply distressing'.

'I share the anger there is about the policing of this and lessons need to be learned,' he tweeted. 'People should have been able to mark this moment peacefully and safely. This is a national moment for change.

'Women across the country have shared powerful testimonies of unacceptable abuse and the desperate, long overdue, need for change. We need to find a way for people to show solidarity safely, and in a Covid-safe way.

'At the heart of this we should also keep at the forefront of our minds the anguish that Sarah Everard's family must be going through and prioritise finding ways to support them.'

A Reclaim These Streets event was due to be held tonight at the bandstand on Clapham Common, near where Ms Everard went missing, but organisers yesterday failed to secure a High Court ruling that lockdown - which bans gatherings - should not stop their right to protest.  

Despite urging people to conduct a vigil at their doorstep with a candle, hundreds of people arrived at Clapham Common this evening and similar gatherings have been held in Bournemouth, Leeds, Cambridge and Bristol. 

Following violence at vigils, Reclaim These Streets said it was 'deeply saddened and angered by the scene of police officers physically manhandling women at a vigil against male violence'.

A spokesman added: 'From the start Reclaim These Streets set out to work closely with the Met to ensure this vigil could go ahead safely, so women could stand together peacefully and safely to remember Sarah Everard and all the women lost to male violence.

'The Metropolitan Police failed to work with us despite the High Court ruling yesterday that a vigil could potentially go ahead lawfully. In doing so they created a risky and unsafe situation. It is their responsibility to protect public order, public health and the right to protest - they failed tonight on all accounts.

'All the time they spent fighting us on a legal claim that the Judge agreed should not have been necessary and was caused by the Metropolitan Police's stance, they could've been working with us to ensure the vigil went ahead in a safe way. The Judge was clear and the Metropolitan Police conceded minutes before the hearing, that there was no blanket ban on protest under the current law. They then had an opportunity - and a responsibility to work with us safely and within the law.

'This week of all weeks the police should have understood that women would need a place to mourn, reflect and show solidarity. Now is the time for the police and the Government to recognise that the criminal justice system is failing women. Tonight, it has failed women again, in the most destructive way. We will keep fighting for women's voices to be heard and to matter.'

Campaign group Sisters Uncut, which had representatives attending the Clapham vigil, tweeted: 'As soon as the sun went down, police stormed the bandstand. We do NOT answer to violent men.'

The account posted: 'Stay safe. Know your rights: 'NO COMMENT' if cops talk to you. If police ask you to do anything, ask 'am I legally obliged to?'. if they say yes, ask 'under what power?'' 

Sisters Uncut tweeted claiming 'male police officers waited for the sun to set before they started grabbing and manhandling women in the crowd'.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: 'The scenes in Clapham this evening are deeply disturbing.' Pictured, Starmer with his wife Victoria outside their home

A large candle was placed outside 10 Downing Street in remembrance of Ms Everard as vigil's were held across the country

A well-wisher places a tribute on the growing pile from a gap in a police cordon at the band-stand

Crowds gathered around the band stand in Clapham Common today  

After the clashes in Clapham, Charlotte Nichols, shadow minister for women and equalities, tweeted: 'If  @metpoliceuk had put the resources into assisting @ReclaimTS to hold the covid-secure vigil originally planned that they put into stopping any collective show of grief and solidarity (both through the courts and a heavy-handed physical response), we'd all be in a better place.' 

Female MPs have strongly criticised the Met's handling of the vigil.

Liberal Democrat Wera Hobhouse tweeted: 'Is this really 21st century Britain? What is our police doing? Whatever has happened to policing for the community on behalf of the community?'

And Labour's Sarah Owen posted: 'This is heartbreaking and maddening to watch. No one can see these scenes and think that this has been handled anything but badly by @metpoliceuk. It could and should have been so different.'

Gracie Bradley, interim director of human rights group Liberty, said: 'Police were given the choice on how to approach this protest. They could have worked with organisers to ensure people could collectively grieve and protest a lack of protection.

'But instead they chose aggressive interventions that put people's health at risk and led to chaos and distress.

'The true architect of this disaster is the Home Secretary, who has relentlessly demonised protesters and refused to support a protest exemption to the lockdown rules.

'She has undermined a vital pillar of democracy in the process, and pitched police against the public by encouraging aggressive enforcement against those who take to the streets to dissent.'

More than 100 people defied a police request to stay away from a Birmingham city centre vigil to remember Sarah Everard. 

Event organisers had called off the gathering earlier in the day following discussions with West Midlands Police, but people still attended.

The force had warned those still intending to show up that 'current Covid-19 regulations do not permit large gatherings'.

However, the hour-long vigil, which was addressed by several speakers and included a minute's silence for Ms Everard, passed off without incident and with no obvious sign of uniformed police.

One woman, addressing the Birmingham vigil, said: 'The police have prevented this, but despite that we have still come out in a pretty decent number.

'I think we should all be really proud of the fact that we have stood our ground anyway.'

She added: 'One of the reasons I am here today is not just to acknowledge the tragic, awful thing that happened to Sarah, but also the countless women who are going to be dying because of the system.' 

Mourners stand opposite police officers as people gather at a memorial site at the Clapham Common Bandstand

Hundreds of people held up the torches on their phones in memory of Ms Everard

People talk to police as they gather at the band stand in Clapham Common

A line of police officers blocked the flowers and tributes left in memory of Ms Everard

One woman held up a sign that read 'we live in fear. Not all survive. Police do not protect us' in Clapham 

A woman was held by two police officers in Clapham on Saturday evening

A woman was pinned to the ground in Clapham Common amid rising tensions on Saturday night

A woman screamed as she was held down by police in Clapham Common this evening

A man is pictured kneeling on the group next to a man in a balaclave on Clapham Common on Saturday

A mourner talks with police officers at a memorial site at Clapham Common

Earlier, attendees in Birmingham had lit candles and laid them at the foot of a tree in Victoria Square, to which signs had been fixed reading 'I am Sarah Everard' and 'Male violence is for men to fix'.

One woman, addressing those gathered at the Birmingham vigil, said: 'The fact 'not all men' was trending this week, higher than 'hashtag SarahEverard', says all we need to know about why these things perpetuate.

'The fact police released a statement telling women in south-east London to stay indoors and not to go out past a certain time, shows how ingrained victim-blaming is.

'Women are routinely attacked, abused and killed by all kinds of men; family members, colleagues, men they've never met or spoken to, men they've rejected, men in charge of supposedly keeping them safe, or positions of power - simply just for existing and being visible.'

She added: 'Yet there's so little retribution.

'Where do we go - to the police? Our criminal justice system is stacked against victims and makes it nigh on impossible to convict perpetrators.' 

A woman started to cry as she knelt down to put a bouquet of flowers next to others in Clapham Common

Mourners seen in tears at the memorial site near Clapham Common bandstand this afternoon

People gather at a memorial site in Clapham Common Bandstand, following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard

People mourn at a memorial site for Sarah Everard at the Clapham Common Bandstand

She said: 'After the court case yesterday, the High Court left the door open for the MET police to engage with the organisers to agree a peaceful, socially distant vigil. They refused and did this instead.'

Another speaker, who introduced herself to the Birmingham crowd as Elizabeth from Wolverhampton, said: 'I am fed up of hearing people - men and women - telling me that I need to have somebody to walk with me.

'If I go somewhere, they say 'oh, I'll walk you home' - it seems like almost it's something that I have to do, be walked home.

'I've been told this, like many of you, since I was a young girl, I'm not a child, I don't need to be told how I should behave, I should be able - and I do - to walk the streets anytime I want.

'Because I am a free human-being, I am equal to everybody else, not a child to be told what I have to do.'

She added: 'I just wish that everybody would be safe to walk, anytime, anywhere, without fear of violence - society needs to change.' 

She added: 'I know Lambeth Borough officers made efforts to compromise with the organisers but were overruled from high up.

'They'll be left to deal with the fallout of this and the further burden it places on already strained community relationships. Very disappointing from Scotland Yard.'

Police have said the gathering at Clapham Common is 'unsafe', and urged people to go home.

Women wore masks as they held up candles to remember Ms Everard in Clapham Common

Piers Corbyn arrived at Clapham Common earlier this afternoon to pay his respects 

A tweet from the Lambeth police account said: 'The gathering at #ClaphamCommon is unsafe. Hundreds of people are tightly packed together in breach of the regulations and risking public health.

'We are urging people to go home and we thank those who have been engaging with officers and who are leaving.'

A small vigil was held in Brussels for Ms Everard. Entrepreneur Rozina Spinnoy, who moved to Belgium almost 20 years ago, attended the event with her son and a few others, holding posters proclaiming 'reclaim these streets'.

She said: 'Todays Brussels vigil was important for me. Showing all that regardless of our backgrounds, colour, race or religion, as women we unite - we share the grief together over Sarah Everard and all women who have experienced violence.

'Internationally and cross border to show solidarity in the fight to stop violence against women. We won't be silenced.'

She added: 'I feel positive to have contributed to this campaign for more safety / no violence against women in public spaces. Also to remember Sarah.'  

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson lit a candle outside Downing Street for Ms Everard tonight with his fiancee Carrie Symonds. The Prime Minister said he 'cannot imagine how unbearable' the pain and grief is for Ms Everard's family and friends.

He wrote on Twitter: 'Tonight Carrie and I will be lighting a candle for Sarah Everard and thinking of her family and friends. I cannot imagine how unbearable their pain and grief is. We must work fast to find all the answers to this horrifying crime.

'I will do everything I can to make sure the streets are safe and ensure women and girls do not face harassment or abuse.'  

Bristol: People gather on College Green after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Ms Everard was officially cancelled

Bristol: Mounted police watched over a vigil on the College Green this evening

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among many to share an image of a candle alight in their homes.

She tweeted: 'For Sarah, and all the others #ReclaimTheStreets.' 

Comedian Sandi Toksvig tonight said 'this must become a turning point' as she opened an online vigil to Ms Everard.

Speaking at Feminists of London's virtual event, the television presenter said it was not a 'small change' that was needed, but a 'cultural shift about how women are viewed and treated both in the public and private space'.

'This has to be a turning point where ending violence finally becomes a political priority,' she said. 

Ms Toksvig expressed her 'profound sorrow and rage'.

She said: 'The truth is of course I don't want to be here at all, I do not want to attend a vigil for a bright young woman in her early 30s, a woman with her life before her.

'I do not want to be here talking about the memory of Sarah. I have two daughters about the same age as Sarah. Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Never have I felt more passionately concerned about my kids.

'It surely cannot be asking too much to want them simply to be free, to walk where they like, when they like.

'I am filled in equal measure with profound sorrow and rage, and I know there are many who share this rage and I think it is entirely justifiable. But I also know that it will harm rather than help us if we don't try and direct that anger to good purpose.'

She added: 'Tonight we reflect that when the vigil is over, the work begins.' 

Police had previously warned that each vigil organiser faced a £10,000 fine if events went ahead, the group claimed, adding it did not want to be forced to give money to 'a system that consistently fails to keep women safe'. 

This morning a statement said: 'We have been very disappointed that given the many opportunities to engage with the organisers constructively, the Metropolitan Police have been unable to commit to anything.'   

Cambridge: On King's Parade street in Cambridge people attended a vigil for Sarah Everard

Cambridge: Dozens of people gathered with placards on Kind's Parade street after Ms Everard's death 

Cambridge: A woman used white chalk to write 'Reclaim These Streets' on a pavement in King's Parade 

Cambridge: Women held signs with the hashtag 'Reclaim These Streets' on King's Parade 

Cambridge: People marched along the street in King's Parade after an official vigil was cancelled

Cambridge: Women lined a road in Cambridge and held up signs as they held a vigil for Ms Everard

Bournemouth: People gather in Bournemouth after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Sarah Everard was cancelled

Bournemouth: Three women light candles in Bournemouth after the Reclaim These Streets vigil

Leeds: Candles and flowers were left on the steps of the Parkinson Building at the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire

Leeds: Mourners left their tributes including a sign reading 'we are all Sarah' at the University of Leeds

The organisation is now urging people to take part in a doorstep vigil tonight at 9.30pm.

The group has asked people to 'shine a light - a candle, a torch, a phone - to remember Sarah Everard and all the women affected by and lost to violence'. 

Labour MP for Streatham Bell Ribeiro-Addy tweeted: 'On today's walk, I laid flowers at Clapham Common bandstand in memory of Sarah Everard and all the women lost to violence.

'Hundreds of people came to show their solidarity and I can see hundreds more on my way home. The Police's decision to cancel the vigil makes no sense.'

'This must become a turning point': Tributes are left for Sarah Everard in an online vigil 

Comedian Sandi Toksvig tonight said 'this must become a turning point' as she opened an online vigil to Sarah Everard.

Speaking at Feminists of London's virtual event, the television presenter said it was not a 'small change' that was needed, but a 'cultural shift about how women are viewed and treated both in the public and private space'.

'This has to be a turning point where ending violence finally becomes a political priority,' she said. 

Ms Toksvig opened the online vigil, expressing her 'profound sorrow and rage'.

She said: 'The truth is of course I don't want to be here at all, I do not want to attend a vigil for a bright young woman in her early 30s, a woman with her life before her.

'I do not want to be here talking about the memory of Sarah. I have two daughters about the same age as Sarah. Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Never have I felt more passionately concerned about my kids.

'It surely cannot be asking too much to want them simply to be free, to walk where they like, when they like.

'I am filled in equal measure with profound sorrow and rage, and I know there are many who share this rage and I think it is entirely justifiable. But I also know that it will harm rather than help us if we don't try and direct that anger to good purpose.'

She added: 'Tonight we reflect that when the vigil is over, the work begins.' 

Commander Catherine Roper, the Met's lead for community engagement responded that officers had held a number of 'challenging talks' with the vigil organisers.

She added: 'While we understand their frustrations of this cancellation and share the nation's outrage at this crime, we must all continue to work together to fight Covid-19 and keep each other safe.'

Calling off the event, Reclaim These Streets said it would aim to fundraise £320,000 for women's causes, equal to £10,000 for every proposed fine for the 32 vigils.

More than £50,000 was raised in the first three hours of the Just Giving page going live and it has now reached half its target.

A virtual vigil is also being coordinated, while a decision on similar events outside of London, that fall under different police forces, will be made later. 

Organisers said they had made 'every effort' to pull off the vigil to 'balance our right as women to freedom of expression' with the current Covid curbs. 

The group brought an urgent action in a bid for a declaration that any ban on outdoor gatherings under coronavirus regulations is 'subject to the right to protest', and thus the vigil should be allowed to happen.

Mr Justice Holgate declined to grant the group's request and also refused to make a declaration that an alleged policy by the force of 'prohibiting all protests, irrespective of the specific circumstances' is unlawful.

Reclaim These Streets resolved to continue discussions with the Met, which ordered people not to gather but 'to find a safe alternative way to express their views'. 

Groups of people stood in vigil for Sarah Everard at locations around the UK, including Glasgow, Bristol and Nottingham.

In Bristol, a female police officer asked one member of the crowd to leave the vigil, saying she risks her life to be out dispersing crowds in a pandemic.

A woman could be heard shouting back: 'You risk your life every night, love.'

Caitlin Prowle, one of the Reclaim These Streets organisers, said they did not want to end up in a situation where they were having to raise funds to pay fines.

She said: 'The police's lack of co-operation and unwillingness to engage with us to find a compromise means that we can't go forward in good faith.

'We can't put our supporters at risk, quite frankly we can't put ourselves at risk in that way, and so really they've left us with no other option.' 

Flowers were first laid this morning and continued to be placed throughout the day, with some women saying they would be attending this evening despite the cancellation. 

Reclaim These Streets added: 'We were told that pressing ahead could risk a £10,000 fine each for each woman organising.'

While confident they could raise the money to foot the cost of fines, the organisation said it would be a 'poor use' of funds.'We do not want to see hundreds of thousands of pounds contributed to a system that consistently fails to keep women safe,' they said. 

MPs also expressed regret at the decision and called for laws on freedom of assembly during the pandemic to be clarified.

Mourners held candles as they paid tribute to Ms Everard in Clapham Common tonight

Hundreds of well-wishers make their way towards the bandstand in Clapham Common

A sketch of Wayne Couzens, 48, a firearms officer from Scotland Yard's elite Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, appearing in court this morning

Mandu Reid, the leader of the Women's Equality Party, has said violence against women and girls is 'akin to a form of domestic terrorism'.

Speaking at Feminists of London's virtual vigil, she said: 'The pain and poignancy of this moment lies in the devastating fact that all women and every girl lives under the perpetual threat that what happened to Sarah could happen to any one of us.

'The reality for women and girls is that the harassment we experience, which is as omnipresent as the air we breathe, could escalate at any time.'

She continued: 'I am done with empty platitudes from political leaders from across the spectrum who treat male violence like a tragic but inevitable force of nature, as if they haven't spent years slashing budgets to prevention programmes and support services.'

Ms Reid added: 'Piecemeal measures and individual actions do matter and do make a difference but let's be real, they won't turn the tide on this.

'The way to truly honour Sarah and every other woman we've lost is to demand that politicians of all stripes treat violence against women and girls as a political and policing priority.'

Home Secretary Priti Patel said that almost 20,000 people had responded in 24 hours to a consultation on how the Government could tackle violence against women and girls.

'That is completely unprecedented & we will carefully consider responses,' she tweeted.

Ms Patel added that she would be 'lighting a candle tonight in Sarah's memory'.

Labour MP Stella Creasy shared an image of women dressed in red cloaks and bonnets, inspired by Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale.

'Tonight women in Walthamstow made their feelings about the failure to tackle violence against women clear,' she tweeted.

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted: 'Sarah Everard was walking home. Her murder - and the stories from other women this week about their experiences - tell us why we have so much more to do to end violence and abuse against women. As candles are lit tonight, let us ignite a fire for change.'

Emotions were high at the bandstand as people paid tribute to Sarah Everard

Women across the UK have been devastated this week following Sarah Everard's death. Pictured, mourners in Clapham

A sign reading 'end violence against women' was left at the bandstand in Clapham Common among hundreds of flowers

Women wore face masks as they supported each other during a gathering in Clapham Common

Placards left at the memorial read 'text me when you're home' and 'when will women be safe'

Police officers spoke to those gathering in Clapham Common this afternoon

As the sun began to go down hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects to Ms Everard

Flowers are left in between the railings at the bandstand in Clapham Common

Women comforted each other as they left tributes at the bandstand earlier today

Hundreds of bouquets of flowers have been left around the bandstand as crowds mourned Sarah's death

Those paying tribute broke down into tears as they laid flowers (right). One person left a placard, left, saying 'I am Sarah'

Pictured: A photograph of Sarah Everard is left with floral tributes and messages in London

People kept their distance from each other amid coronavirus restrictions as they laid flowers

A steady stream of mourners headed to and from the bandstand in Clapham Common today

Candles, flowers and a stuffed bear were left as people paid tribute to Sarah Everard

More and more people descended on the bandstand as the afternoon continued

A sign reads 'Men, do better. Protect all women' is among flowers at the memorial site

People mourn at a memorial site on Clapham Common, following Sarah's kidnap and murder

There was a strong police presence at the event as dozens of people gathered to lay flowers

Reclaim These Streets is asking people to hold a 'doorstep vigil' at 9.30pm this evening and to shine a light in Sarah's memory

Police officers watch on as people continue to leave flowers and tributes for Sarah Everard at the Bandstand where planned and organised vigil tonight has been cancelled

Senior Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, who had previously said she asked Home Secretary Priti Patel to 'step in' and allow the vigil to go ahead, said she hoped people would now take the advice of organisers to gather virtually instead.

She told BBC Breakfast: 'It is important that women come together. We can do that virtually and recognise the ongoing issue there is with violence against women and girls, perpetrated by men, but do it in a Covid-safe way.'

Labour's Harriet Harman, who chairs the Joint Committee on Human Rights, said the law on freedom of association amid the coronavirus pandemic should be clarified.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'We have said previously that the law on this should be made clearer.

'The relationship between the Human Rights Act and its protection of freedom of association and the new Covid regulations has not been clearly spelt out.'

Last night, home office minister Victoria Atkins urged people thinking of rallying to stay at home.

The Tory MP said: 'I would love to go marching in Clapham but we are in the middle of this pandemic and the law is as it is.'

She said she would mark the event at her front door, 'reclaiming an albeit very small piece of pavement'.  

Commander Roper said: 'I would like to thank the organisers of tonight's vigil in Clapham Common for cancelling the gathering. Since Sarah's disappearance, we have shared Londoners anguish, shock and sadness at the truly awful circumstances of her disappearance and death.

'I know that yesterday's ruling would have been unwelcome news for the organisers and to those who were hoping to join others in tribute to Sarah and to make a stand on violence against women.

'While it is clear we cannot do this together on Clapham Common, I know there are various others ways to mourn Sarah in a safe way.

People gathered to bring flowers to Clapham Common after a planned organisation was cancelled 

Women paid their respects to Sarah Everard at Clapham Common

Police officers bring floral tributes, left by the public, to the site as Met Police continue their search near Great Chart, Kent

People gathering earlier on Saturday to lay flowers and pay their respects on Clapham Common

Police had warned that each organiser faced a £10k fine if the vigil went ahead, the group claimed after it cancelled the event

One of the dozens of messages and cards left at the memorial site on Clapham Common in tribute to Sarah Everard

Mourners for the life of murdered 33-year-old Sarah Everard, whose remains were found this week in woodland in Kent

Pictured: A message of condolence is seen as mourners for the life of murdered 33-year-old Sarah Everard

Appearing in court today wearing a grey tracksuit and bearing a red mark on his head, Couzens stood as the charges were put to him before being remanded in custody before his case is sent to the Old Bailey on March 16. 

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring said: 'Mr Couzens, I am sending your case to the crown court sitting at the Central Criminal Court, what you might know as the Old Bailey. You will appear there for your first appearance on the 16th of March.

'I don't have the power to consider the question of bail. That will be considered should you wish to make an application to the court on the 16th of March.

'You are therefore remanded in custody until that date, both charges having been sent to the crown court.' 

The father-of-two was yesterday rushed to St George's Hospital for the second time with fresh head injuries.

He was treated for the second injury he sustained while in custody in 48 hours before being discharged and returned to a police station, the Metropolitan Police said.   

Scotland Yard added: 'The suspect was taken to a hospital for treatment to a head injury sustained while in custody in a cell on Friday, March 12. He was being monitored by officers and received immediate first aid.' 

In a statement last night, Rosemary Ainslie, head of special crime at the Crown Prosecution Service, added: 'Following a referral of evidence by the Metropolitan Police related to the death of Sarah Everard, the CPS has authorised the police to charge Wayne Couzens with murder and kidnapping.' 

Commissioner Dick visited search sites in Kent today to thank teams involved in continued searches in relation to the investigation.

 A High Court judge last night refused to intervene on behalf of the group in a legal challenge over the right to gather for a protest during coronavirus restrictions

Passersby leave tributes and flowers around the Clapham Common bandstand, where the vigil was planned to take place

Flowers were laid at the bandstand this morning, with some women saying they would still be attending this evening

Police marine unit divers continued their search of ponds in Hoad Wood behind the grounds of the derelict activity centre in Great Chart on Saturday afternoon. 

A lone police officer also stood guard outside the home of Couzens in the seaside town of Deal, Kent as forensics teams continued their search there.

Ms Everard was last seen on a doorbell camera at the junction of Poynders Road and Cavendish Road at 9.30pm on March 3 after crossing through Clapham Common. 

On her way home, Miss Everard had spoken to her boyfriend Josh Lowth, 33, on the telephone and arranged to meet the next day. She was reported missing after friends and family were unable to reach her. 

Earlier on Friday, Scotland Yard confirmed that human remains found in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, two days earlier had been identified as Miss Everard.  

The heartbroken family of Miss Everard yesterday paid tribute to Ms Everard, describing her as a 'shining example to us all'. 

Speaking outside Scotland Yard, Mr Ephgrave said Miss Everard's family had been told this 'most distressing news'.

He said: 'As you know, on Wednesday evening detectives investigating the disappearance of Sarah Everard discovered a body secreted in woodland in Kent.

'The body has now been recovered and formal identification procedure has now been undertaken. I can now confirm that it is the body of Sarah.'  

He said his 'thoughts and prayers, and those of the entire organisation' remain with Miss Everard's family 'at this awful time'.

He added: 'Specialist officers remain in constant contact with Sarah's family, and will continue to support them throughout the investigation and beyond.

'That investigation continues at a pace and we have hundreds of officers working round the clock to establish the full circumstances of Sarah's disappearance, and her murder.'   

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