A PANEL considering whether there is a case to answer against two police officers accused of spying on a woman campaigning about the death in custody have been asked to draw a distinction between them.
The two officers, who have not been named, are accused of gross misconduct over the unauthorised surveillance of Janet Alder more than 17 years ago during an inquest in Hull into her brother Christopher’s death.
Mr Alder, 37, choked to death while handcuffed and lying on the floor of a Hull police station in the early hours of April 1, 1998.
Dijen Basu QC, for Humberside Police, said “Officer One” went to the restaurant of the Kingston Theatre Hotel and was part of the team carrying out surveillance on Ms Alder and her barrister Leslie Thomas, while “Officer Two” followed “some males” to the Lowgate car park. Mr Basu said: “There is a distinction between Officer One and Two.”
Mr Basu said the defence’s case was “something like we are following orders,” but it was “obviously wrong” to try and listen in to a conversation between a lawyer and client, even if asked to do so by a chief constable. If there had been an instruction it would have been “so obviously amiss” it should have been challenged.
He said: “It is entirely possible that what happened here is that people start out performing one kind of surveillance and fail to appropriately stop when it goes beyond what they have been asked to do.”
However Jason Pitter QC, representing Officer One, said he was astonished by the tack Mr Basu had taken, and there was no evidence to back up his assertion.
Earlier he said his client “would have been operating at the behest and instruction of the operations team, those senior officers who gave evidence before.”
There was no evidence as to who sanctioned the surveillance on July 28,2000, he said, and not knowing the precise terms of the surveillance, he asked: “How can you then conclude officers have gone beyond it?”
Yesterday retired Chief Inspector Tony Stead denied giving the authority to carry out the surveillance on Ms Alder and her barrister. Mr Stead, who was acting Superintendent at the time, told the hearing: “It certainly wasn’t me.” The case continues.