Pressure on Priti Patel to explain her advice to police on Sarah Everard vigil

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Priti Patel is coming under pressure to explain what she said to police ahead of last weekend’s vigil for Sarah Everard, after the emergence of a letter suggesting she wanted them to stop people gathering.

The Home Secretary told MPs on Monday that she had “been in touch” with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick “on Friday and throughout the weekend” about the sensitive event, which ended with images of women being held on the ground and handcuffed by police.

A memo from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, sent on the eve of Saturday’s vigil in remembrance of the murdered 33-year-old, indicates that government ministers were “supportive” of the position that coronavirus restrictions do not permit large gatherings.

Entitled “Vigils following the murder investigation of Sarah Everard” and sent to chief constables including Dame Cressida, the memo makes clear that the NPCC was expecting Ms Patel to make a public statement urging people not to attend.

In the even, no such statement was made, and Ms Patel later criticised footage of police handling of the Clapham Common footage as “upsetting” and called for a full report on events, leading to complaints she had “let down” officers.

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