‘No case to answer’ for police who spied on sister of man after death in custody
Janet Alder was followed outside the inquest into Christopher Alder’s death in police custody in Hull in 1998.
Two police officers accused of spying on a woman campaigning about the death in custody of her brother have “no case to answer” a police misconduct hearing has found.
The two men were accused of gross misconduct over the unauthorised surveillance of Janet Alder more than 17 years ago, outside the inquest at Hull Combined Court into her brother Christopher’s death.
On Thursday, a panel of three, sitting in Goole, East Yorkshire, decided there was no case to answer for the two officers.
During the four-day hearing, the panel heard how a police surveillance team was deployed outside the inquest in July 2000 with orders relating to possible public order situations.
The officers facing disciplinary actions – referred to as Officer One and Officer Two – were accused of carrying out surveillance on July 28 2000 “without appropriate authorisation and justification” when they followed Ms Alder and her barrister, Leslie Thomas QC, and listened to their conversations.
But their lawyers argued they had simply been doing what they were told by more senior officers.
Jason Pitter QC, representing Officer One, told the hearing: “He would have been following instructions given to him by those involved in the wider investigation of the events surrounding the inquest.”
He said that although there may have been failings, “the culpability lies with others, further up the chain and parts of the wider system deployed by Humberside Police Service.”
A misconduct hearing against two of our officers has concluded today, ruling there is no case to answer for either party.— Humberside Police (@Humberbeat) March 1, 2018
Further details are available on our website: https://t.co/CkBo3xYxaW pic.twitter.com/JGTeKE7HoA
Sam Green QC, for Officer Two, said: “He is at a loss to know what he was supposed to do once instructed to carry out highly sensitive surveillance.”
He said: “He believed he was carrying out lawful orders.”
The Independent Police Complaints Commission – now the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) – investigated the surveillance of Ms Alder but the Crown Prosecution Service decided no-one should be prosecuted.
My concern is not the surveillance team, it's who further up ordered it. It's not these two Janet Alder
A spokeswoman for Humberside Police said on Thursday: “We complied with the direction from the IOPC to convene a hearing for gross misconduct against the two officers. This hearing has now concluded with a result of ‘no case to answer’ for both officers.”
At the beginning of the hearing, Ms Alder, 56, from Leeds, said: “My concern is not the surveillance team, it’s who further up ordered it. It’s not these two.”
She said that although the hearing is only focusing on less than two hours of surveillance, she believes she was followed by officers over a much longer period, starting in 1998.
“This is just a tiny bit of it,” she said. “Even now I think ‘are they still surveilling me?’.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Judi Heaton, of Humberside Police, said: “We know that this has been a distressing time for Ms Alder and her family. We do understand her frustration that the exact details around the case have not been able to be established.”