Chesterfield MP blasts London police’s handling of vigil as “hopelessly wrong”

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has condemned the Metropolitan Police's handling of a vigil in south London to mourn Sarah Everard.

Sunday, 14th March 2021, 3:36 pm

Officers were seen handcuffing and leading women away from the event and police said four arrests were made at the vigil to "protect people's safety".

Several hundred people gathered on Clapham Common on Saturday evening to pay tribute to 33-year-old - whose death has prompted a public debate over women's safety - despite Covid restrictions.

Posting on Twitter, Mr Perkins said: “The scenes in London are appalling.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mr Perkins said the Met got it "hopelessly wrong."

Police face very difficult job but they’ve got it hopelessly wrong.

“This was a peaceful vigil and given the circumstances should have been policed far most sensitively.

“This moment was about violence against women and that mustn’t be lost.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel has asked the Met for a report on what happened, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was "urgently seeking an explanation" from Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.

The official vigil had been cancelled earlier in the day after organisers said the force had failed to "constructively engage" on how it could be held in a Covid-secure way.

One video posted online showed officers removing women who were standing by the bandstand.

Cries of "shame on you" and "let them go" could be heard from onlookers. The video showed them being put in a police van and driven away.

Ms Patel called footage on social media "upsetting" and said she had asked the Metropolitan Police for a "full report on what happened".

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show the scenes were "incredibly upsetting", adding that it was "right" the force "explain their actions - both to the democratically elected politicians and the public".

She told Sky News the government hopes to be "hearing explanations" from Dame Cressida "in the hours and days to come".

Asked whether the Met Police commissioner should leave her post, Ms Atkins added: "I really, really want to support the home secretary in her request to have a report from Cressida.

"The police have got a tough job in policing the coronavirus pandemic more generally at the moment."

Editor’s message: In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Phil Bramley, editor.