Socialist Worker

Authorities 'shut door on truth'

Issue No. 1810

THE CROWN Prosecution Service (CPS) failed to use evidence against five police officers on trial for the killing of a black man, Christopher Alder. The five officers were charged with manslaughter and failure of duty in a public office after Christopher was unlawfully killed on 1 April 1998.

Christopher died face down, handcuffed on the floor of the custody suite of Queen's Garden police station in Hull. Christopher's dying moments were captured on the police CCTV. 'Monkey noises and laughter were picked up by recording equipment as Christopher lay dead in a police station surrounded by officers,' the Daily Mirror said this week.

This information was discovered during the trial of John Dunn, Neil Blakely, Mark Ellerington, Nigel Dawson and Matthew Barr earlier this month. But this evidence was kept from the jury in the trial.

The excuse given by the Crown Prosecution Service head of division Christopher Enzor was, 'We cannot establish who made the noises and who was laughing. For that reason we cannot argue that the chimpanzee monkey sounds are admissible.' Enzor claimed, 'The prosecution would have to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the sounds had racial motivation. The evidence falls a long way short of this standard.' Leading lawyers said the decision was 'legal nonsense'.

'It's shut the door on the truth,' said barrister Peter Herbert, who sits on the Attorney General's race advisory committee. 'People know such noises are the way to be abusive to black people-and this happened in a British police station. The jury should have been informed.' The CPS never presented racism as a factor in the unlawful killing of Christopher Alder.

The trial judge ordered the jury to acquit the five officers. All five police officers returned to work the next day. The person responsible for the CPS is the Attorney General, Lord Peter Goldsmith QC. He had the cheek to turn up to a packed screening of the film Injustice, about deaths in police custody, last week.

In the audience was Janet Alder, Christopher's sister. She told the audience, 'None of us are safe-this could happen to any one of us. We must have a public inquiry. This evidence has existed since Christopher died in the police station.'

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Article information

Sat 27 Jul 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1810
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