Socialist Worker

Officers joked as he died

Issue No. 1712

Inquest rules Christopher Alder 'unlawfully killed'

Officers joked as he died

BLACK EX-SOLDIER Christopher Alder was "unlawfully killed" in Humberside's police headquarters on 1 April 1998. That was the unanimous verdict of an inquest jury last week.

The seven-week inquest found that five police officers left Christopher on the floor of Hull's Queens Gardens station to die, after dragging him unconscious from a police van.

The inquest verdict was extensively covered in mass circulation newspapers such as the Sun, the Mirror and the Mail. THERESA BENNETT talked to Christopher's sister Janet Alder about the verdict and her two-year campaign for justice.

THE INQUEST verdict is absolutely brilliant. It has been over two years since Christopher died and it has been a total nightmare.

I want to see the five officers who stood by talking and laughing while Christopher died prosecuted for manslaughter and held accountable. Christopher was treated so inhumanely it is unbelievable. You wouldn't do that to an animal. I remember Mary Chipperfield being prosecuted for cruelty to an elephant. But look how they treated Christopher.

Even in the courtroom the police barristers were treating us like criminals. The police thought we would just walk away and forget about my brother. I started the campaign because from the moment I heard about Christopher's death I didn't believe a word the police said to me.

The police at Queens Gardens just treated me with contempt and so much disrespect, as if I was a nuisance. I came back home to Burnley and met up with Andy and Maggie [from Burnley SWP]. We started the campaign from there.

We organised meetings, spreading the word around the country. Without the campaign I would have been going around in circles and would not have known what to do. It is ordinary people who have been the driving force behind this campaign.

The experience has shown me that you can do something when an injustice is done to you. You don't have to sit back and accept it. The unity of everyone together and the fact that other people believe in what you are saying gives you such strength-it makes you feel quite powerful to tell you the truth.

I believe that for a long time the police have gone about just abusing their position. I have absolutely no respect for them-they have done nothing for my family to earn my respect. I have no fear of the police, not any more.

I don't think institutional racism in the police has improved at all. There has been no change in police racism. The police did not want to help in any way, when they obviously knew what had happened to Christopher. His life did not mean anything to them. Their only concern was that the establishment would look bad. I really think the establishment should be brought down and we should start again.

The campaign has been a large part of my life. It has been a long fight. The message I would send to other people who are fighting for justice is to stand up and keep asking questions, no matter how difficult. We made home secretary Jack Straw listen by turning up on his doorstep to lobby him. He has a lot of work to do. He has got to stop just making the right noises while doing nothing.

I think it is a complete joke that the five officers involved in the death of my brother have only been charged with the common law offence of "misconduct in a public office". I am insulted by the attempts to just throw me something in the hope that it will keep me quiet.

I would like to thank everyone who supported the Justice for Christopher Alder Campaign. The verdict of unlawful killing is everyone's achievement, everyone's victory.


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News
Sat 2 Sep 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1712
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