Prosecutors have blocked the Met Police from criminalizing people who attended a vigil for Sarah Everard.
The Crown Prosecution Service told lawyers it had “discontinued” the cases of six in attendance because it was not in the public interest.
They were accused of violating the lockdown rules by meeting at Clapham Common in March last year.
But a CPS spokesperson said: “We concluded that our legal test for a prosecution was not met.”
She said The Observer“This is a victory in itself, but it does not hold the Met responsible for their actions during the vigil or for their decisions to criminalize me and others for standing up and speaking out more than a year later.”
Jeni Edmunds, 32, who was also prosecuted, added: “I’m glad the Met had to drop this. That the police used the same power that was abused to coerce Sarah Everard into her murder to arrest mourners during her vigil speaks volumes.”
Their lawyer, Pippa Woodrow of Doughty Street Chambers, said: “The police’s attempts to criminalize them were absurd and damaging.
It is hoped that the Met will now focus its focus and resources on protecting women from violence rather than trying to silence those who speak out against it, and on restoring the trust damaged by their decisions in this matter.”
Mourners including the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton defiantly showed up to pay their respects despite the vigil being canceled due to the risk of Covid fines.
Retake these streets co-founder Jamie Klingler, who had helped organize it, said: “I’m relieved that someone has finally seen a bit of common sense, but quite angry, as if this is still going on for 16 months.”
Last week’s decision is the final blow to Scotland Yard for its crackdown on the peaceful protest.
Police Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe said prosecution was “entirely a matter for the CPS”.
She added: “Officials took their duty very seriously to protect the public during the pandemic and balance this with the rights of individuals.”