Compensation is no victory for us, says sister of Christopher Alder

Janet Alder Crown Street, Halifax.
Janet Alder Crown Street, Halifax.

A HALIFAX woman has been compensated with more than £22,000 by the government for the death of her brother in Hull police station in 1998.

Christopher Alder, 37, choked to death on blood and vomit on the floor of the police station after being arrested at Hull Royal Infirmary for an alleged breach of the peace.

His sister Janet Alder, 49, has spent the past 13 years campaigning about his death.

A judgement on the case was due to be given by the European Court of Human Rights but the government decided it would settle.

It said it regretted the “treatment in custody” of Mr Alder and agreed to pay his family £22,770 plus £26,440 in legal costs and expenses.

Miss Alder told the Courier: “To legal people it might seem like a victory but on a personal level, for a family, it doesn’t feel like a victory. We have an acknowledgment which makes me feel a little bit better, but I would say it’s far from a victory. It’s taken 13 years with the same information they’be had all the way along. If it hadn’t been for the European Court and for the Human Rights Act we would still be in the same position.

“There’s no compensation for the loss of my brother’s life or the way that it happened or for the 13 years of devastation for my life and my children’s lives. It’s been a continuous nightmare.”

Ten years ago a coroner’s jury decided Mr Alder was unlawfully killed. In 2002, five Humberside Police offiers went on trial accused of manslaughter and misconduct in public office but they were cleared of all charges on the orders of the judge. Four years later, an Independent Police Complaints Commission report said four of the officers in the custody suite when he died were guilty of the “most serious neglect of duty”.

As reported in the Courier earlier this month, Miss Alder also recently learned the body she laid to rest in 2000 thinking it was her brother was in fact believed be a Nigerian woman called Grace Kamara. An investigation is under way.