'I almost cried': Woman held at Sarah Everard vigil tells of relief after Cressida quit

11 February 2022, 08:51 | Updated: 11 February 2022, 13:07

By Elizabeth Haigh

The woman photographed being arrested by police at the vigil for Sarah Everard has told LBC she "almost cried" with relief when she heard Cressida Dick had quit as Met Police commissioner.

Patsy Stevenson told LBC: "I stopped in the street. I stopped and I almost cried.

"It might sound a bit silly but I took a sigh of relief."

Ms Stevenson is a women's activist and writer who was famously pictured pinned to the ground while she was arrested by several officers during the highly criticised police handling of the vigil for Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a serving police officer.

She has repeatedly spoken out about the force's behaviour at the vigil, as well as around violence against women.

Ms Stevenson said: "She [Cressida Dick] was in charge when her police were at that vigil.

"We’ve seen countless things that she's been a part of that are not ok."

Read more: 'Hasn't got a clue': Former top Met cop blasts 'disgraceful' Sadiq after Cressida quit

At the vigil in March 2021, which took place under coronavirus restrictions, police moved in and arrested some of those paying respect to Sarah after she was brutally murdered.

The Met police were widely criticised for the move, but senior officers defended their decisions at the time.

Tensions were increased by the revelation Sarah had been killed by police officer Wayne Couzens, who was still serving at the time.

As well as the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, the Met has been rocked by recent scandals, including text messages emerging in which former police officers based in Charing Cross joked about raping women.

She hit out at "token female officers".

"We need to remember it doesn’t matter whether a woman is hired or not, if you've got internalised misogynism.

"You can still be sexist if you’re a woman. It doesn't change anything."

She said she believed London Mayor Sadiq Khan handled the matter in the right way.

"I'm glad Cressida Dick's gone. I think people like Priti Patel are running from a sinking ship they helped put holes in."

Read more: Who will replace Cressida? Runners and riders for Met Commissioner

The shock resignation of Dame Cressida on Thursday ignited a row between the Mayor and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Sadiq Khan did not warn Priti Patel or the Queen - who appoints the commissioner - of his intention to call Dame Cressida into a meeting that would lead to her resignation.

Mr Khan summoned the beleaguered police boss at 4.30pm on Thursday after he decided her plan to reform the force was insufficient - but she handed in her resignation instead of attending as requested.

According to Home Office sources, Ms Patel thought the decision to attempt the meeting without her knowledge was "rude and unprofessional".