Woman Detained At Sarah Everard's Vigil Speaks Out About What Really Happened

She tearfully told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, "I have never told this story properly."
Police detained Patsy Stevenson in this viral photo from the Sarah Everard vigil
Police detained Patsy Stevenson in this viral photo from the Sarah Everard vigil
Hannah Mckay via Reuters

A woman who was detained at the Sarah Everard vigil has spoken out about what really happened on the eventful day.

Patsy Stevenson was arrested by police in March 2021, during a gathering held in Everard’s memory.

Everard was raped and murdered by then-serving officer, Wayne Couzens, prompting a national conversation about women’s safety and the police.

He had just been arrested when a crowd of hundreds decided to gather in Clapham Common in southwest London, where Everard was last seen alive.

Police claimed this was in breach of Covid lockdown rules in place at the time, and that the crowds refused to disperse – leading to Stevenson’s arrest.

The Metropolitan Police has just settled the civil claims brought by Stevenson and fellow detainee Dania Al-Obeid, by paying them damages and issuing an apology.

Discussing the settlement, Stevenson tearfully revealed to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme how she really ended up being detained, adding that she has “never told this story properly” before.

Stevenson began: “A woman put her hand out to me and said, ‘Can you come and help, can you come up here and help?’”

She said she then started to film the vigil from the bandstand so people could get an account of what was happening.

Today programme host Nick Robinson asked: “You wanted to help her because you felt she was being assaulted by police?”

She said she could see people “being spoken to in a very aggressive way”, and eventually the crowds were “being kettled in” by officers on the scene.

Stevenson added that one woman asked the police if they could just have “the last five minutes to tell everyone what we have to say, and then we’ll disperse”.

She claimed the responding officer was “so aggressive” to the woman, and refused her suggestion – so the group decided to stay.

Stevenson said: “That was a moment we were like, ‘how dare you?’”

She also claimed it was not fair how woman are often told to stay indoors when there’s a male killer on the loose.

Referring to the widespread criticism levelled at the police force, she also claimed that the Met Police is offering only “lip service” when it says it is turning over a new leaf.

“Where is this reform?” she asked.

The police have also claimed they were just encouraging people to leave at the vigil, and it was only when people declined that officers supposedly move to “enforcement”.

According to an investigation into the incident, there was nothing which suggested officers acted in an inappropriate or heavy-handed manner.

However, Stevenson said there are photos which proved what happened – and that she was only asked to leave when she was up against a railing, with 20 police officers behind her and hundreds of people in front of her.

She continued: “I don’t know where I could have gone. I didn’t want to step down, because – how dare they?”

After the Met settled her civil claim, Stevenson said in a statement: “It has taken over two years to reach this conclusion.

“It’s been a really tiring and difficult process but it has felt important to push for some form of accountability and justice for myself and all women who attended the vigil to express our anger and grief over the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Metropolitan Police officer.”

A Met spokesperson said: “A protracted legal dispute is not in the interests of any party, least of all the complainants who we recognise have already experienced significant distress as a result of this incident.

“The most appropriate decision, to minimise the ongoing impact on all involved, was to reach an agreed settlement.”


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