The Met Police are launching yet another appeal against a High Court ruling which said the Sarah Everard vigil organisers’ rights were breached when they were told the gathering would be illegal under Covid rules. The vigil was cancelled, but hundreds attended anyway to pay their respects to Sarah, who was abducted, raped, and murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens.
In March, two judges argued the Met ‘s decision which led to the official vigil being cancelled was a breach of rights to freedom of speech and assembly.
Earlier this month, a first High Court appeal against the ruling was dismissed, with part of the Met’s case being described as “hopeless attempts to challenge reasoned factual conclusions”. Scotland Yard is now seeking permission to take their appeal to the Court of Appeal, the BBC reports.
Reclaim These Streets tweeted about the news, asking “will it never end?” They wrote: “We can now announce that @metpoliceuk are spending more taxpayer money to continue to fight us in court. Despite the High Court’s vehement rejection of their “hopeless” application for permission to appeal, they are now trying to appeal to the Court of Appeal. Will it never end?”
In a statement, the Met said: “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.
“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.”
In the original High Court ruling, Lord Justice Warby said the Met had “failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering”.
He added: “The relevant decisions of the (Met) were to make statements at meetings, in letters, and in a press statement, to the effect that the Covid-19 regulations in force at the time meant that holding the vigil would be unlawful. Those statements interfered with the claimants’ rights because each had a ‘chilling effect’ and made at least some causal contribution to the decision to cancel the vigil.”
On the first appeal, Justice Warby and Justice Holgate said it had “no reasonable prospect of success” and there was no “compelling reason for an appeal to be heard”.