Sarah Everard: Vigil policing was ‘exemplary’, Sir Tom Winsor says

“We found that the officers in question behaved with commendable restraint and the utmost professionalism.”

A top policing inspector has described the actions of the Met Police on the night of the Sarah Everard vigil as “exemplary”.

Sir Tom Winsor, who wrote a report into the resignation of Dame Cressida Dick as the commissioner of the force, appeared at City Hall this morning (Wednesday, November 16).

His report found mayor Sadiq Khan had treated the commissioner in an “oppressive and unreasonable” way, had not followed “due process”, and “failed to respect [her] dignity”.

The mayor previously claimed Sir Tom’s report was “clearly biased and ignores the facts”.

Speaking at the police and crime committee alongside Khan, Sir Tom suggested the policing of the Clapham Common vigil following the killing of Sarah Everard was “exemplary”.

A woman places floral tributes at the bandstand in Clapham Common to Sarah Everard. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The 33-year-old marketing executive was abducted, raped and murdered by serving armed officer Wayne Couzens in March 2021.

A vigil in her memory during the third Covid-19 lockdown sparked controversy after police were photographed arresting women during the protest over issues of safety and misogyny.

But speaking during the meeting today, Sir Tom defended the actions of the police on the night of the Saturday, March 13, vigil.

He said: “The mayor also says the policing of the Clapham Common vigil was found to be unlawful.

“That is simply not true.”

Sir Tom Winsor, left, and mayor Sadiq Khan at City Hall. Photo: LondonWorld

He added: “The High Court found aspects of the way in which the Met prepared and engaged with the organisers of the vigil in advance had legal flaws. The policing of the vigil itself was exemplary.

“The [police] inspectorate carried out a very detailed examination of the vigil and we found that the officers in question behaved with commendable restraint and the utmost professionalism.”

The justice inspectorate’s report said: “We viewed hours of body‑worn video footage and heard officers patiently pleading with people to go home… our conclusion was that police officers remained calm and professional when being subjected to some extreme and abhorrent abuse.”

The High Court later found the force breached the human rights of feminist activists at Reclaim These Streets (RTS) who attempted to organise a socially distanced vigil before abandoning plans in the face of the threat of £10,000 fines.

Lord Justice Warby said: “None of the [force’s] decisions was in accordance with the law… the [force] failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering”.

RTS said in a statement that the judgement was a “victory for women” and that “the police were wrong to silence us”.

While co-founder Jamie Klingler said the ruling represented an “absolute vindication”.

She said: “We hope that the new commissioner is a visionary who really prioritises getting rid of the systemic racism, sexism and homophobia in the force.”

And Patsy Stevenson, who was arrested at the impromptu vigil which took place instead of the RTS event, described the ruling as a “huge win”, adding: “Women are fighting back now.”

Mayor Khan told the committee the Everard vigil was one of a list of factors which contributed to his loss of confidence in the commissioner, which also included the Operation Hotton report into Charing Cross police station, Child Q and the Stephen Port inquests.