Stratford woman fined for Covid breaches at Sarah Everard vigil

People in the crowd turning on their phone torches in Clapham Common, at a vigil for Sarah Everard 

People in the crowd turning on their phone torches in Clapham Common, at a vigil for Sarah Everard - Credit: PA

A woman from Stratford is among three people who have been slapped with fines for breaching Covid laws, after attending a vigil for murdered Sarah Everard.

Hundreds spontaneously gathered on Clapham Common last year, after a planned socially-distanced event proposed by Reclaim These Streets (RTS) was cancelled when organisers were threatened with £10,000 fines by the Metropolitan Police.

The Met’s policing of the vigil – following the kidnap, rape and murder of marketing executive Ms Everard, 33, on March 3, 2021 by serving Pc Wayne Couzens – was heavily criticised after women were handcuffed on the ground and led away by officers.

News of six prosecutions brought by the force under the Single Justice Procedure, a paper-based process not held in open court, for alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations was met with anger last week.

Dania Al-Obeid, 27, from Stratford and two others were convicted in their absence in a behind-closed-doors hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday (June 1).

Each was fined £220 and ordered to pay £100 in court costs and a £34 victim surcharge, with 28 days to pay, the court said on Thursday.

They were all accused of participating in a gathering of more than two people in a public outdoor place at Clapham Common bandstand on March 13, 2021, when London was under Tier 4 restrictions.

Marketing manager Ms Al-Obeid, who is taking legal advice over the fine, said last week: "This isn’t about the £200, I’ve had people come forward and offer to pay this. It’s about what this fine represents.

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"I've requested any updates regarding the fine to be made via email as I’m not in the country; however the first I hear of this charge is via the media.

"It's been dealt with so poorly from start to finish and I’m just expected to roll over and accept this treatment.

"I’m considering fighting this as it’s simply not fair."

The Met said a total of six cases have been brought to court because the fines issued for alleged breaches of Covid rules were not paid.

A total of nine fixed penalty notices were issued - two were paid, and the other was dropped with no further action.

In a police witness statement submitted to the court, officers said Ms Al-Obeid was one of four women who had linked arms at the edge of the bandstand and that she was arrested after repeatedly ignoring directions to leave.

Pc Darryl Mayne said: "I had witnessed Al-Obeid shout aggressive chants regarding officers being 'murderers'. However, I was unsure whether she was going to physically assault officers once she had realised officers were detaining her.

"I was fully aware of the seriousness and sensitively of the situation and the reasoning for the gathering.

"However, I informed Al-Obeid that I also had to uphold my duty as a serving constable to maintain public health."

The Met has already faced criticism of the way it dealt with the vigil and its aftermath.

A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services concluded that police "acted appropriately" when dealing with the event, but also found it was a "public relations disaster" and described some statements made by members of the force as "tone deaf".

Last Tuesday, the Met were refused permission to appeal for a second time against a High Court ruling which concluded that the force breached the rights of the RTS organisers.

Couzens, 49, is serving a whole-life sentence after admitting Ms Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder.