Cressida Dick Says Kate Middleton Acted Lawfully When Attending Sarah Everard’s Vigil, Here’s Why People Are Confused About That

She said Kate was 'working' when she visited the vigil, but the palace have said she was there on a 'private visit.'

Kate Middleton

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

When women attended the vigil for Sarah Everard earlier this month, they were grabbed, pinned to the ground and arrested for behaviour deemed unlawful by the Metropolitan Police. Three people were subsequently held on suspicion of breaching the Health Protection Regulations and two were fined with fixed penalty notices for breaching lockdown rules.

Thanks to the lockdown rules at the time, police who manhandled the women have been excused for arresting women who were simply paying their respect to Sarah and countless survivors of male violence. A watchdog review of the Metropolitan Police’s actions on the day reported that they ‘did not act inappropriately o in a heavy-handed manner’ and were ‘justified’ in arresting women because the risk of coronavirus transmission was ‘too great to ignore’.

It was noted at Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was one of many women who visited Clapham Common on the day of the vigil, to pay her respects to Sarah. When Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick was questioned today as to why the Duchess had not broken the law when others had, her response created even more confusion. Here's a breakdown of everything that happened so far.

The palace initially said Kate's vigil visit was 'private'

She attended the vigil in what Kensington Palace said was a private visit, and not announced in advance. It was reported she went in a personal capacity because she ‘wanted to pay her respects to Sarah and her family’ and that she ‘remembered what it felt like to be a woman walking around London at night before she was married,’ according to a palace sources speaking to The Times.

Kate’s visit was not listed in the Court Circular – the daily list of royal engagements – so it was never considered an official engagement, but even those considered private visits are usually listed in the Court Circular because they are still royal duties, according to Hello Magazine.

According to Cressida Dick, Kate was actually 'working' when she went to the vigil

And yet, Dame Cressida Dick has another story. In an interview on BBC Radio 4 Today, she said that Kate acted completely lawfully by attending the vigil because ‘she was working.’ Now, people are reacting fiercely online. Some, who believe Dick that Kate attended the vigil ‘in the course of her duties’ are now condemning Kate’s visit as a PR stunt. While others, who consider Kate’s visit to have been private, as the Palace stated, condemning Dick for giving the Duchess of Cambridge preferential treatment.

‘Really, it was legal for her because you think she was there for work?’ broadcaster Justin Webb asked Dick.

‘No, let me go back,’ Dick began to backtrack. ‘At that point, people had a whole series of potentially reasonable excuses for being away from home. We didn’t all have them for everything, I’ve picked out one that may well apply to her, but let’s be clear, there was a very calm vigil at which she attended, where lots and lots of people came.’

Interrupting her, Webb pointed out that Dick had previously said herself that ‘had the vigilbeen legal’ she would’ve attended herself, implying that it was illegal to attend at all ‘including when the Duchess attended’.

‘It was clearly possible, under the law, for example for somebody who lived locally to walk as many did and lay flowers legally. There are other reasons why people might be in the area and they could’ve laid flowers calmy and peacefully, potentially legally,’ Dick concluded.

But, lots of other people who were working at the vigil have faced legal trouble

Even if it was the case that the Duchess was working, many online are now questioning why the police distinguish between her job, and the four Legal Observers that were arrested at the Kill the Bill protests in London last week – who too, were working. Legal Observers are trained volunteers who support the legal rights of activists, they provide basic legal guidance and act as independent witnesses of police behaviour at protests.

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After the Kill the Bill protest, four observers from Black Protest Legal Support (BPLS), an organisation led by ethnic minority lawyers to monitor the policing of protests, were arrested and held in custody. They were all wearing high-vis jackets marked ‘legal observer’ and yet were all told to expect fines after their arrest. Human Rights group, Liberty, are now bringing legal action against the Met Police arguing that the arrests are ‘unlawful’ because legal observers are exempt from covid-19 restrictions on gatherings and that their arrests represent a ‘dangerous attack on the right to protest.’

Police are also under fire after Daily Mirror journalist Matthew Dresch alleged he had been assaulted by police during demonstrations in Bristol – despite the fact he too was working. Sharing video footage on Twitter that show police pushing him and hitting him with a baton as he shouted that he was a member of the press, he said ‘Police assaulted me at the Bristol protest even though I told them I was from the press. I was respectfully observing what was happening and posed no threat to any of the officers.’

Many are now asking then, if legal observers and journalists can be reprimanded by police for being at protests while working, why is it that Kate Middleton is deemed to be acting lawfully? One might expect that the royal family would get preferential treatment in situations like that, but when it comes to police forces responsible for law enforcement, that are funded by all of our taxes we might add, that certainly should never be the case no matter who is being accused of an offence.

Read More:

We're Not Panicking, We're Reacting. We're Not Hysterical, We're Angry.

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