Welcome progress in mortuary mix-up case as Hull police return from Australia
POLICE officers investigating a body mix-up at a Hull mortuary have returned from interviewing key witnesses in Australia.
Christopher Alder's body was discovered in the Hull Royal Infirmary mortuary in November 2011, 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 last year confirmed Grace Kamara, 77, had been buried in his place.
A criminal investigation was launched shortly after, which is ongoing.
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The police investigation is determining whether there has been an offence of misconduct in public office committed.
Two officers flew out to Australia on December 10 after South Yorkshire Police – the force appointed to carry out the investigation – successfully concluded months of negotiations with Australian federal police and the Australian High Commission.
They have now returned having interviewed one Australian resident, while a second witness flew from New Zealand to be questioned.
Christopher's sister Janet Alder has welcomed the progress.
She said: "I have been told the officers have returned from Australia having interviewed someone living there while a second person flew from New Zealand as well.
"I hope this means the investigation is coming to an end, as I don't see what else they can do."
Detective Superintendent Richard Fewkes, who is leading the inquiry, was not available for comment.
The body mix-up only came to light on the day Mrs Kamara was due to be buried.
Her burial had been delayed for 12 years due to problems getting family over on a visa to take her back to her native Nigeria.
The funeral plans turned to farce when her relatives insisted on seeing the body – an important tradition in Nigerian heritage – and Hull City Council admitted the mistake had been made.
An exhumation took place at Northern Cemetery in February and DNA tests confirmed Mrs Kamara had been lying in the grave of Mr Alder.
Permission was granted for Mrs Kamara to be reburied in the grave where she has lain for the past 12 years.
It is thought the Australian interviews were one of the few outstanding lines of inquiry in the case and may allow the investigation to be concluded early this year.
In November, Miss Alder launched the first stage of legal proceedings that could see her sue two of the organisations involved.
Pending the outcome of the criminal inquiry, the human rights campaign group Liberty lodged a protective claim with Central London County Court on Miss Alder's behalf.
The claim allows her 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.