Government to apologise to Alder family over custody death

Press Release by: The Guardian
published: 22nd November 2011

The government will formally apologise through the European court of human rights (ECHR) to the family of Christopher Alder, a black ex-soldier who choked to death in handcuffs on the floor of a Hull police station 13 years ago. The “unilateral declaration” made by the United Kingdom to the court is a highly unusual admission of widespread failures in the investigation into the cause of the Falklands veteran’s death.

In its statement to the ECHR, the government will concede that it breached its obligations in regard to preserving life and ensuring that no one is subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment. The family is to receive €34,000 (£29,000) from the government in an ex gratia payment and to cover legal costs.

The unusual step of issuing a statement of that sort is a form of settlement and invites the court to strike out the case. The government had fought not to have the case heard in Strasbourg, before lodging an official statement and apology to the Alder family. Its apology is on behalf of Humberside police.

The text of the apology states: “The government of the United Kingdom regrets the occurrence of the actions which have led to the bringing of the present application, in particular the treatment in custody of the applicant’s brother, Mr Christopher Alder, and the anguish that this treatment and his death have caused to his family.”

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