Plans for a peaceful vigil last March turned sour when protesters were arrested and pinned to the ground (Picture: Getty)
A legal ruling against the Metropolitan Police’s handling of a planned vigil for Sarah Everard will stand after the force’s final bid to overturn it was denied.
The Court of Appeal said there was ‘no basis’ for the force to launch a second challenge against a High Court verdict which found it breached the rights of the vigil’s organisers by threatening them with £10,000 Covid fines.
The force had been recovering from the embarassing failure of its first attempt, which drew fierce criticism from the High Court judges who made the ruling.
Rejecting the appeal request in April, Lord Justice Warby and Justice Holgate blasted the Met’s ‘selective and misleading analysis’ of its ruling and said its lawyers had failed to put forward ‘any clear or tenable argument’ against it.
They found that ‘none of the grounds of appeal has a reasonable chance of success, and there is no other compelling reason for an appeal to be heard’.
The judges’ sentiments were echoed by Lord Justice Holroyde of the higher Court of Appeal on Tuesday, who said there was ‘no arguable basis on which it can be said that the (High) Court’s decision was wrong’.
In a court order, he acknowledged that it can be ‘difficult’ for police to navigate the rules around the right to protest, and that ‘the difficulty may be increased when considering a prospective event’.
But he said the legal principles on the matter were ‘clear’ and no separate guidance is needed.
Judges have repeatedly and forcefully rejected the Met’s arguments against the ruling (Picture: AFP)
He added: ‘The court’s evaluation of the evidence involved no error of principle or unsustainable finding.
‘An appeal therefore does not have a real prospect of success, and there is no other substantial reason why an appeal should be heard.
‘Permission to appeal must accordingly be refused.’
The latest decision was welcomed by campaign group Reclaim These Streets, who were forced to cancel their carefully coordinated, socially distanced vigil in March last year due the force’s threats.
Alarming scenes emerged when hundreds of protesters arrived at Clapham Common, in south London, regardless, with some arrested and pinned to the ground.
The vigil followed the murder of Sarah Everard by police officer Wayne Couzens (Picture: PA)
The High Court ruling resulted from a claim brought by three of the activists, Jessica Leigh, Anna Birley, Henna Shah and Jamie Klingler, who said their freedom of speech had been breached and that the Met’s commanders did not assess the potential risk to public health.
A spokesperson for the group said they were ‘thrilled’, while Ms Klingler tweeted: ‘IT IS FINALLY OVER. Vindication.’
A Met Police spokesperson said in a statement: ‘We are aware of the Court of Appeal’s decision. We will be considering it carefully and will comment further in due course.’
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