Christopher Alder's sister takes first step in legal action over burial mix-up
THE sister of Christopher Alder has started legal proceedings against the authorities involved in the body mix-up involving her brother.
Christopher's body was discovered in the Hull Royal Infirmary mortuary in November last year, 11 years after his family believed they had laid him to rest following his death in police custody in 1998.
An exhumation of his grave in Hull's Northern Cemetery earlier this year confirmed Grace Kamara, 77, had been buried in his place.
A criminal investigation was launched shortly after, which is still ongoing.
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Now, pending the outcome of the criminal inquiry, the human rights campaign group Liberty has lodged a protective claim with Central London County Court on behalf of Janet Alder.
The legal proceedings need to begin within a year of the mix-up taking place.
Janet said: "The claim has to begin within a year, so this move secures that. If we didn't do this now then it could be argued we were out of time.
"This is just the first stage and we will now wait until the criminal investigation is completed.
"I want to find out who is accountable and these legal proceedings could provide us with more answers.
"We are taking action regarding the Human Rights Act in relation to the right to family life.
"I still think the charge of prevention of a burial rather than an offence in public office should have been investigated.
"If the results of the criminal investigation are not satisfactory we will start legal action immediately.
"I have no confidence anything will be done."
The claim allows Janet to pursue possible civil proceedings against Hull Council, which ran the city mortuary when the wrong body was released in November 2000, and Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which took charge before the attempts to bury Mrs Kamara last year.
It is understood any civil case may be based on potential breaches of Article Three and Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Article Three prohibits torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, while Article Eight covers the right to respect for private and family life.
Corinna Ferguson, legal officer for Liberty, said: "Clearly, something went very wrong in this disturbing and tragic case.
"Liberty has now issued a claim under the Human Rights Act to protect Ms Alder's interests, ensuring she has the chance to fight for justice in the civil courts once the criminal proceedings have ended."
Christopher, a father of two, died face down in custody at Queens Gardens police station on April 1, 1998, with his hands cuffed behind his back. A post-mortem failed to establish the cause of death.
After an inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killing, five police officers stood trial for manslaughter, along with misconduct charges.
However, the case collapsed and the officers were cleared.