Dania Al-Obeid notifies Met Police she will bring civil proceedings against the force for misconduct at Sarah Everard vigil
Bindmans LLP has formally notified the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) of Dania Al-Obeid’s intention to pursue claims for breaches of her rights pursuant to Articles 10 (freedom of expression) and 11 (freedom of assembly) of schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998. These breaches arise from the MPS decisions to arrest, detain and charge Dania Al-Obeid following her attendance at the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard on 13 March 2021.
Dania Al-Obeid was convicted under the Single Justice Procedure for breaching the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 by attending the vigil. She was unaware she had received a criminal record until contacted by the media. The police were able to charge and convict Dania Al-Obeid with no independent oversight and in her absence, with no opportunity to defend herself.
After arguing that she had not been given the chance to plead not guilty, she was due to face trial later this year to try and overturn her conviction.
Once the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) took over prosecution proceedings from the MPS, Dania Al-Obeid was notified that they would be discontinuing the case on the basis that it was not in the public interest.
Dania Al-Obeid will now seek to hold the MPS accountable for their conduct and decision-making in the civil courts. She is crowdfunding to protect herself from the police’s legal costs and to pay other associated costs of bringing this litigation.
Dania Al-Obeid comments:
I had a criminal record over the last few months because the Met were able to have me convicted under the Single Justice Procedure. I was devastated when I found out. To be convicted behind closed doors for standing up for my human rights, and our rights just to be safe from violence, felt extremely unjust.
At the time, I didn’t feel like I could fight it, I felt like shrinking and taking up less space. I started to blame myself for ever speaking up. It brought back some of the terrible experiences in my past, and took me to a dark place, where I didn’t think my voice mattered, or that I even had a right to speak.
However, I’m extremely lucky to have a legal team of amazing women who told me my rights and said what was happening was unlawful. That’s why I eventually got the strength to push back.
I want every person in the same boat to know their rights and have the ability to push back and claim their space.
Today, I stand tall as a survivor and say yes, I am a victim of abuse, Sarah Everard is a victim of abuse, along with so many others who are victims of abuse. We demand the space to be angry, sad, devastated. We demand the space to call for change. We will not back down in asserting and protecting our human rights and we will hold those abusing their power accountable.
I am now, therefore, taking steps to bring a civil claim alongside other women seeking to hold the police accountable for their actions both at the vigil and since.
Rachel Harger, solicitor at Bindmans LLP who is representing Dania Al-Obeid, comments:
The Metropolitan Police’s efforts to double down on their attempts to legitimise their policing operation and conduct in and around the Clapham Common vigil is entirely unsurprising, but the fact that they have continued to do so under immense public scrutiny and criticism further illustrates that this is a police force that believes it should be able to act with impunity.
It is no small feat to take on litigating a comparatively well-resourced publicly funded institution, which is also heavily politically supported by the government of the day. I sincerely hope that the public will come together and support Patsy Stevenson, Dania Al-Obeid and all those who were subjected to such appalling police conduct on 13 March 2021, as they now seek to hold the police accountable in the civil courts.
Dania Al-Obeid is represented by Rachel Harger of Bindmans LLP, along with Jude Bunting QC and Pippa Woodrow of Doughty Street Chambers. She was formally represented by criminal solicitor, Grace Loncraine of Commons.