Blunkett orders review after BBC's custody death film

The BBC’s broadcast of a controversial documentary about a man whose death in police custody was captured on CCTV has led Home Secretary David Blunkett to call for a review of the case.

The programme, Death On Camera, part of BBC One’s Rough Justice series shown last week, was made by the documentary team that produced the award-winning The Secret Policeman.

Following the broadcast of the film, which showed CCTV footage of ex-paratrooper Christopher Alder choking as he lay handcuffed and face down on the floor of a Hull police station, Blunkett said he would refer the case to the newly established Independent Police Complaints Commission.

He said: “We deeply regret the terrible distress that has clearly been caused to the family and understand perfectly well the reaction of viewers seeing these distressing scenes.

“It is, however, six years, a trial and two inquiries later that we are having to assess whether there is any beneficial purpose in reopening the case.”

Blunkett fell short of calling for a public inquiry, for which Alder’s family has been campaigning since his death in April 1998.

“Public inquiries in such circumstances cannot be triggered by TV footage of material which was already known during the judicial and inquiry investigations,” he said.

“However, I am asking the new Independent Police Complaints Commission to have another look at this and to report back.”

By Wale Azeez

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