21 February 2018

26 February – 2 March 2018
Magistrates Court Building,
Estcourt Terrace, Goole DN14 5AF

It is essential to register in advance to attend*

A gross misconduct hearing into intrusive and unauthorised police surveillance of a bereaved family during an inquest opens on Monday 26 February 2018. Between 3 July and 24 August 2000, an inquest took place into Christopher Alder’s death in Humberside police custody. Without appropriate authorisation, a surveillance team was deployed to follow Christopher’s sister, Janet Alder and her legal representative. This came to light only in 2013 and an investigation by the then Independent Police Complaints Commission ensued.

Christopher was a trainee computer programmer and former British Army paratrooper who had been commended for his service. He died on 1 April 1998 on the floor of Queen's Gardens Police Station, Hull following arrest and restraint by Humberside police. The inquest into his death returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Christopher’s death was one of significant public interest, and a number of interested friends and families were present during the inquest. Authority was given to police to observe and monitor public order outside the Hull Crown Court where the inquest took place, in order to identify suspects involved in possible offences outside court as part of any protests.

However the surveillance that took place went far beyond the strictly limited authorised terms of surveillance. The operations commander and the deputy operations commander of Humberside Police’s surveillance team at the time, who have been given anonymity during this hearing, sanctioned intrusive surveillance. Janet Alder and her legal representative were followed away from the Court to a hotel and a car park where there was an attempt to listen to conversations between them. Those conversations included or were likely to include matters which were private, confidential and subject to legal professional privilege.

The hearing will examine whether this conduct, which is said to constitute a breach of the police Standards of Professional Behaviour, was so serious as to constitute gross misconduct.

Deborah Coles, director of INQUEST said:

“It is reprehensible that police spied on a bereaved sister and her lawyer during an inquest. This was a clear attempt to intimidate and undermine their attempt to get to the truth about the brutal reality of Christopher’s death. The unlawful killing of Christopher Alder is of significant public interest, as is the shocking treatment of his family in the following years.

We hope this hearing will identify appropriate sanctions for those involved in this gross invasion of privacy. At a time when the undercover policing inquiry is yet to hear evidence, this hearing is an important moment in the wider public understanding of invasive and inappropriate police spying.” 



For further information, please contact Lucy McKay on 020 7263 1111 or here.

INQUEST has been working with the family of Christopher Alder since his death. The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Ruth Bundey of Harrison Bundey Solicitors.

*Anyone wishing to attend the hearing must register in advance with the police force by sending their details to the following e-mail address.  There is very limited space so we recommend registering as soon as possible.

More information on the death of Christopher Alder and following legal cases is available here.