Socialist Worker

Janet Alder speaks out - ‘Hold cops to account over deaths in custody’

Twenty years after her brother Christopher Alder died, Janet Alder is still fighting for truth and justice

Issue No. 2597

Janet Alder has campaigned for 20 years for justice over her brother Christopher Alders death

Janet Alder has campaigned for 20 years for justice over her brother Christopher Alder's death (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Sunday will mark 20 years since Christopher Alder was unlawfully killed in a Hull police station.

The Justice for Christopher Alder campaign will hold a commemoration protest on Saturday.

Christopher was involved in a fight at a nightclub in the early hours of 1 April 1998.

Police came to the hospital where he was being treated to interview him and arrested him.

He was conscious enough to talk briefly to a hospital security guard. Then he was manhandled into a police van.

His sister Janet told Socialist Worker that when Christoper arrived at the police station he was “totally unconscious”.

“His trousers and boxer shorts were down to his knees,” she said. “He was dragged to the custody suite and put on the floor bleeding from his mouth.”

Christopher died in the custody suite of Queens Gardens Police Station. CCTV footage showed cops near to him, making monkey noises as he died.

An inquest in 2000 found that Christopher was unlawfully killed. No officer has been charged with crimes relating to his death.

Since then his family has been subjected to repeated humiliation at the hands of the police and the state.

“Without the support we’ve had from ordinary people I’d have been totally crushed,” said Janet. “I could never have done this on my own.

Denied

“I took Christopher’s case to the European Court of Human Rights. When we got there, the government said his right to life had been denied.

“After that I thought, ‘I’ve done everything I possibly can. At least now they’ve had to acknowledge Christopher rather than view him as insignificant like all the other deaths in custody.’

“I thought it was time to get on with my life.” Instead Janet uncovered more injustices.

“We thought we’d buried Christopher in 2000,” she said. “But in 2011 it emerged that his body had laid in the mortuary for 11 years in six body bags.”

His family had buried the body of 77 year old Grace Kamara in his place.

South Yorkshire police set up an inquiry into the incident. Janet believes the way they conducted the inquiry was contemptuous of her and her family.

“They said they didn’t know who had swapped his body or when the swap had taken place,” said Janet.

“Then in 2011, I was told the police had spied on me during the inquest proceedings. It’s not just one injustice, we’re talking about three injustices.”

Janet said it’s the responsibility of all ordinary people to hold the cops to account.

“The number of people, particularly black men like Christopher, dying in police custody is unbelievable,” she said.

“Absolutely no one in authority has had the guts or the ethics to think about what’s been going on here. This has been such a stain on British society.”

March to remember Christopher Alder, Saturday 31 March, 1pm, Victoria Square, Hull HU1 3DX

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