Like thousands of women in the capital, I just broke my New Year’s resolution to stay zen and banish anger from my life. Well, it wouldn’t last long, would it?
I am not alone. My Whatsapp groups and social media feeds have been ablaze with female anger this week since evidence emerged that one of the Prime Minister’s top officials, Martin Reynolds, had invited more than 100 Downing Street employees to a BYOB drinks to make the most of the “great weather”. This was in May 2020 – a time when rules dictated that people in England could only meet one other person outdoors and large gatherings were banned.
What really makes my blood boil is that — nearly a year ago, on March 3 — Sarah Everard was lured into a car by former Metropolitan cop Wayne Couzens on the pretense of breaking those same rules. At the time, police could arrest violators of Covid rules and Couzens used that power to stop and detain the 33-year-old in south London, then rape and murder her.
How devastating it must be for her family and friends to read about the antics of those in power and their attempts to brush off their actions (Boris Johnson has yet to deny that he and his wife Carrie were at the May party), when a young a woman’s life was taken in the most horrific circumstances imaginable. Sarah honestly believed she had been arrested for walking home after seeing a friend. When those of us outside No.10 bent the rules, we accepted the consequences all too well.
It gnaws even more when you consider that the Met had then been allowed to crack down on the Clapham Common vigil held for Sarah – which, if anyone was there, was peaceful, until the police came in – but only now reconnecting with Downing Street about a get-together that happened months earlier and on a day when the Met had tweeted: “You can relax, have a picnic, exercise or exercise, as long as you’re: Alone / With people you live with / Only you and another person’.
This is the same Met who has already referred himself to the police watchdog for his decision not to investigate the Downing Street Christmas parties. The same Met who told MPs in May last year it was right not to make a “special case” for the Everard vigil and ignore Covid rules as police had to show “consistency” in enforcing the laws. How hollow does that sound now.
“The @metropolitanpolice has violated our human rights by not allowing us to hold a vigil for Sarah Everard while watching the government party in the garden at No. 10,” Jamie Klingler, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets tweeted, Today. “How about you?”
The ongoing buzz surrounding this story (one that would have sealed the fate of many previous prime ministers) obscured the news that David Carrick was charged yesterday with nine more offences, including six more charges of rape, raising the total number of charges. the 47-year-old faces to 29.
It has lifted the fact that Home Secretary Priti Patel still refuses to turn the investigation into Sarah’s murder – whose first phase, she announced this week, would end by the end of this year – into a statutory phase. , forcing the Met to avoid full responsibility.
And it has sent headlines into a black hole around a new app being trialled by the Met called the Path Community, which will allow women to be followed by friends on their journey home — something campaigners have pointed out that does nothing about the causes. of male violence and have called it “offensive”.
One of the worst things? After Sarah went missing, many women I know changed their behavior – including myself. The local police had told us not to go out after dark. Instead of walking the 10 minutes home from the station, I started taking the bus. Instead of taking a shortcut between my two nearest streets, I got off the train early to walk on a main road. Instead of taking a lockdown walk after work – in the dark – I stayed at home.
Many of us who remember Sarah on a daily basis still live by these new self-imposed rules. That our leaders couldn’t follow even the most basic, the ones they set themselves, has given London women the biggest reason to be angry so far this year.