A woman convicted of violating coronavirus restrictions for attending a vigil for Sarah Everard Tuesday brought a civil suit against London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) for violation of her rights under the UK’s Human Rights Act, 1998. Dania Al-Obeid was attending the March 13, 2021, vigil of Sarah Everard, a woman who was raped and murdered by a Metropolitan Police officer.
Al-Obeid was later convicted without her knowledge for flouting coronavirus restrictions under a process called the single justice procedure. The single justice procedure is a process where a magistrate decides the outcome of a minor criminal charge without a court hearing. After Al-Obeid successfully argued that she had not been provided the opportunity to present her case, she secured a trial for later this year. However, the proceedings were stayed by the Crown Prosecution Service, who took over the prosecution from the MPS, citing that it was not in the public interest to continue.
I had a criminal record over the last few months because the Met were able to have me convicted under the Single Justice Procedure. I was devastated when I found out. To be convicted behind closed doors for standing up for my human rights, and our rights just to be safe from violence, felt extremely unjust.
She added, “I am now, therefore, taking steps to bring a civil claim alongside other women seeking to hold the police accountable for their actions both at the vigil and since.”
The vigil was held following the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by former MPS officer Wayne Couzens. The MPS arrested several attendees for violating coronavirus restrictions at the vigil–a move that was heavily criticized by the public.
Rachel Harger, a solicitor at Bindmans LLP who is representing Dania Al-Obeid, said:
The Metropolitan Police’s efforts to double down on their attempts to legitimise their policing operation and conduct in and around the Clapham Common vigil is entirely unsurprising, but the fact that they have continued to do so under immense public scrutiny and criticism further illustrates that this is a police force that believes it should be able to act with impunity.