WHERE: Victoria Square, Hull HU1 3DX
WHEN: 1pm, 31 March 2018
Christopher Alder was born and brought up in Hull. He joined the army at 16, and served in the Parachute Regiment for six years, including the Falklands War.
On March 31 1998, the 37 year old father of two was out in Hull city centre for the evening. At a club, he got into a disagreement which led to the other person being ejected from the venue. That person waited outside and, when it closed at 2am, Christopher was confronted and knocked unconscious.
He later regained consciousness and was taken to hospital. As is common with head concussion, when he came round he was confused and volatile, asking paramedics and nurses “Where am I? What’s happened?”.
Police were called and he was arrested in the small hours of April 1st. Medical staff say he was dragged out, but police claim he walked unaided. He was put into the police van, his hands cuffed behind his back. When he arrived at the police station he was unconscious and his trousers were undone.
He was dragged in and put face down on the lobby floor. The last eleven minutes of his life were captured on the police CCTV. He lay there, choking on his own blood which pooled on the floor in front of his mouth. The police officers stood around, saying he was ‘right as rain’, joking and making made monkey noises.
Christopher’s clothes were subsequently destroyed by a West Yorkshire Police team investigating the death and never subjected to forensic examination.
During the inquest, on more than 150 occasions the five officers involved refused to answer questions. The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing. When there is an unlawful killing, there is an unlawful killer. Despite this, the Crown Prosecution Service initially refused to bring charges. The officers were finally charged with manslaughter in 2002, but the trial collapsed and the judge ordered the jury to find all five officers not guilty.
In April 2004, the BBC broadcast a leaked copy of the CCTV footage. It was the first time anyone had heard the audio, complete with the jokes and monkey noises. The Home Secretary ordered the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate. None of the officers co-operated.
Later in 2004, despite some of them still being in their 30s, four of the five officers were granted early retirement on stress-related medical grounds and received lump-sum compensation payments of £44,000-£66,000. They thus avoided any disciplinary proceedings, and protected their pensions.
In November 2011, Christopher’s body was discovered in the mortuary at Hull Royal Infirmary, eleven years after his family believed they had buried him. It had been used to show police officers autopsy procedures. His family had been given the body of 77 year old Grace Kamara, presumably the only other black person in the morgue at the time.
Christopher’s son Leon Wilson took the Home Office to the High Court in an attempt to get the case reopened, but it was dismissed.
Christopher’s sister Janet Alder has been an indefatigable campaigner for justice ever since her brother was killed.
In 2013, after it was revealed that spycops had targeted the family of Stephen Lawrence, all forces were instructed to conduct a review of their files for similar acts. Humberside Police admitted spying on Janet.
The Crown Prosecution Service found in 2015 that not only had she and her supporters been spied on during Christopher’s six week inquest, but police had also eavesdropped on conversations with lawyers, breaching lawyer-client confidentiality.
The CPS also found:
‘members of a surveillance team were directed to undertake, and did undertake, surveillance with a broader remit than that allowed for in the authorisations’
They concluded that this surveillance was ‘not properly authorised’.
Piers Arnold, of the CPS’ senior crime and terrorism division, said:
‘It is difficult to see how any such targeted surveillance could have been justified or directed at issues of public order which was the written justification for each of the surveillance authorities.
‘Following the family of an alleged victim of police negligence/brutality and their legal representative instructed for an ongoing inquest into that death, whether or not it involved eavesdropping, would involve a high level of intrusion and require good reasons. No such reasons are discernible from the evidence.’
Despite all this, the CPS refused to bring any charges against any officers involved in spying on Janet.
At the same time, the Undercover Policing Inquiry turned down Janet’s application to be a core participant at the Inquiry. Others who are core participants were, and continue to be, outraged by this. We stand with Janet and her family’s struggle for justice. We have been proud to have her speak at our meetings alongside other victims of spycops.
The IPCC looked into the surveillance and found two officers should face gross misconduct charges. Humberside Police disagreed, but in November 2017 were forced to relent.
Janet reacted, saying:
‘While I welcome this news I still don’t expect much will come out of this. Over the years I may appear pessimistic but I have been right every time.
‘I want to know who it was that gave permission to do this, why they were doing it and what they found out and I want those responsible to be held accountable. I don’t think those in charge are facing any hearing.’
We are still waiting for those hearings to happen.
Janet has called a march in Hull to commemorate Christopher on the 20th anniversary of his death. Please share this information and join us there, in solidarity with Christopher, Janet and all victims of state brutality and spying.