The sister of a former paratrooper who was unlawfully killed in a police station has described how she felt “terrorised by the state” after it was revealed that up to 14 police officers were deployed to spy on her. The police operation targeting Janet Alder, which included surveillance and allegedly at least one attempt to eavesdrop on a conversation with her barrister, was not properly authorised, prosecutors said.
Police spied on Alder after she began campaigning to uncover the details of her brother Christopher’s death in a Hull police station in April 1998. One of the most controversial deaths in police custody, it inspired a decade-long quest for the truth. “I am absolutely appalled,” Alder told the Guardian. “I feel terrorised by the state.”
In a letter sent to her on Thursday, the Crown Prosecution Service said it had decided not to charge four senior officers in charge of the surveillance after concluding that there was not enough evidence to secure a conviction of misconduct in public office. But it outlined evidence showing that surveillance officers followed Alder, her barrister and her supporters after a July 2000 hearing of the inquest into her brother’s death. The CPS said that there was evidence that part of the surveillance team followed them to her hotel, while other members tracked another group to a car park.
The second-in-command of the operation told an internal police inquiry that “somebody went for a drink with a solicitor. One remit was to try and overhear the conversation.” That comment “raises significant concern”, the CPS added, as eavesdropping on legally protected conversations between a lawyer and their client is “improper and unlawful”.
If CPS won’t prosecute, what about disciplinary proceedings?