Kate Middleton visits Sarah Everards memorial: ‘She wanted to pay her respects

Tanya Simon
March 15, 2021

People clash with police during the vigil to remember Sarah Everard at London's Clapham Common Bandstand.

It comes as the head of the Metropolitan Police faces intense pressure to explain her officers' actions during a vigil in memory of Ms Everard.

The police's handling of the event invited criticism from across the political spectrum, with Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel calling video footage from the rally "upsetting" and asking the Scotland Yard for a "full report on what happened".

The Home Secretary spoke with the under-fire Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick on Sunday, having received her report into the events on Saturday night.

Sarah Jones, the shadow policing minister, said the focus "has to be on Sarah Everard and the increasing problems of violence against women". Several women were led away in handcuffs as other attendees chanted "Shame on you" at the police.

Met Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said hundreds of people were "packed tightly together", posing a risk of transmitting Covid-19. But she said there were "many missed opportunities throughout the day for police to work with organizers to create a completely safe vigil so that people could go and have a moment of sorrow and a moment of resistance".

It is understood that she wanted to pay her respects to Ms Everard and her family.

She added: "I know Lambeth Borough officers made efforts to compromise with the organisers but were overruled from high up". A police officer has been charged in her death.

As scenes of tussles from the vigil circulated online, politicians from across the political spectrum criticized the Metropolitan Police's handling of the situation.

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The group said they were "deeply saddened and angered" by the police's actions and criticised officers for "physically manhandling women at a vigil against male violence".

The Metropolitan Police has said it is "deeply disturbing" that one of its own is a suspect in the case.

The 33-year-old Everard disappeared as she was walking home from Clapham to Brixton on the evening of 3 March.

The Metropolitan Police released a statement saying they "absolutely did not want to be in a position where enforcement action was necessary", but that "we were placed in this position because of the overriding need to protect people's safety".

Yasmin Khan said men "have the power" and she called for a "change in terms of their role in tackling violence against women and girls".

"I've listened to what people have been saying in the last week, I know that in the streets all across the United Kingdom women don't feel as safe as we would all like women to feel".

On Sunday, hundreds gathered outside police headquarters and marched to a grassy square outside parliament where they lay down en masse in calm protest. Johnson's office said the government already is: recruiting 20,000 extra police officers over three years; reviewing how the criminal justice system deals with rape and sexual offenses; pushing a domestic abuse bill that will crack down on cases of non-fatal strangulation and revenge porn; and surveying the public about experiences with violence.

He appeared at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on Saturday morning. Police discovered her body on Wednesday in woodland about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of London.

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