It was one of the saddest moments in the history of the Met – the moment WPC Yvonne Fletcher lost her life after being gunned down outside the Libyan embassy.
Last Tuesday marked the 35th anniversary of that grim moment in St James’ Square, with Commissioner Cressida Dick visiting the permanent granite memorial which marks the spot where she lost her life.
To this day, her killer has never been brought to justice.
“I was a young officer in the Met 35 years ago when Yvonne was shot,” said the Commissioner.
“In 1984 I worked from West End Central – just half a mile from St James’ Square. That terrible event shook all of us who were in the Met at that time.
“All these years later there may be fewer people who directly experienced the impact of those events still in the Met, but as a police family we still collectively feel her loss.
“Today we mark her death and remember the contribution she made as a valued colleague and as a police woman, dedicated to the public, and we think of her family.”
“The investigation into her murder remains open and we are absolutely committed to bringing justice to her and her family.”
Yvonne Fletcher was just 25 when she was deployed to monitor a demonstration outside the Libyan People’s Bureau.
Policing demonstrations wasn’t unusual, it was one of approximately 400 held in London each year. It should have been a routine task. Tragically that wasn’t to be.
WPC Fletcher was observing the demonstration against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi when, just after 10.15am, a number of shots were fired from an automatic weapon from within the embassy, shooting her in the back.
Without thought for their own safety, fellow officers ran to her assistance as she lay on the ground and, despite their efforts, she died a short time later at Westminster Hospital.
The murder of an innocent officer in broad daylight was seen as an act of state-sponsored terrorism and evoked a powerful reaction from both the public and officers at the time.
It also led to a diplomatic crisis, with the breaking off of diplomatic relations with Libya.
It followed an 11-day siege of the embassy and the expulsion of those inside.
Diplomatic immunity meant no-one was arrested. This year’s anniversary of her death is particularly poignant, as it coincides with the 100th anniversary since the first women joined the Met as officers.
Every year, on the anniversary of her murder, the Commissioner visits her memorial and lays a wreath to remember and pay tribute to WPC Fletcher.