Sarah Everard vigil ban challenged in Divisional Court

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The Divisional Court (Warby LJ and Holgate J) is this week hearing a challenge brought by members of Reclaim These Streets – an organisation that had planned to hold a gathering on Clapham Common on 13 March 2021 to remember Sarah Everard and all women lost to violence – against the alleged decision of the Metropolitan Police to ban that gathering, pursuant to the COVID-19 lockdown rules then contained in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 (the “Lockdown Regulations”). In informing the organisers that holding the vigil would be unlawful and that they could be liable to criminal enforcement, it is argued that the Metropolitan Police failed lawfully to consider their Article 10 and 11 ECHR rights. In particular, it is said that in assuming their hands were tied by the Lockdown Regulations, the police failed to apply the Human Rights Act 1998 and the judgment of the Court of Appeal in R (SSHSC) v Dolan. This substantive hearing follows the urgent interim hearing that was held on Friday 12 March 2021, the day before the planned vigil. On that occasion, Holgate J had refused to grant a declaration and the organised vigil was subsequently cancelled, albeit many people still attended Clapham Common on 13 March 2021. The hearing has been reported on the BBC, Sky News and the Daily Mail. Yaaser Vanderman appeared for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Interested Party in the claim as the person responsible for the Lockdown Regulations.

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