Justice demanded for miners’ arrested in 1984-85
MPs are being asked to sign an early day motion on the policing of the 1984-85 miners’ strike.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, a former President of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), tabled the motion after South Yorkshire Police (SYP) referred themselves to Independent Police Complaints Commission after a BBC documentary alleged that some of the police involved in prosecutions at the Orgreave Coke Plant near Rotherham had colluded when they wrote their statements.
Miners had gathered in force at Orgreave on June 18 1984 with the intention of blockading the plant. Unlike many pickets in the year-long dispute the strikers were escorted to a field nearby, which was flanked by police officers on all sides. In the battle that followed, 95 pickets were arrested and charged with riot and unlawful assembly.
Courts subsequently dismissed the charges after one PC reported that 15 colleagues had their statements dictated to them by two detectives. Later SYP paid £425,000 compensation to 39 pickets in an out of court settlement.
No police officer was reported to have been disciplined for fabricating evidence or the assaults on miners, a good number of which were caught on camera.
Michael Mansfield QC, who represented three acquitted miners, described the evidence given by SYP as “the biggest frame-up ever.”
Nevertheless, the Battle of Orgreave was set to be a historical note if not for the work of that quite brilliant journalist, David Conn, who in April this year used the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough football disaster to highlight the connections with the two events.
This spurred former miners and supporters, like myself, to get organised and the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) has been established and is demanding a public inquiry into the actions of the police at Orgreave. Members of the public are being asked to sign an epetition seeking truth and justice for all miners victimised by the police at Orgreave on June 18th 1984. (see http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/41844
The campaign has been backed by the Hillsborough Justice Campaign (HJC), who in September finally had confirmed what they had been saying for many years, including that many junior police officers had their statements doctored to remove criticism of police operations. The cover up extended to police trying to blame Liverpool fans, 96 of whom lost their lives at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground in April 1989.
HJC spokeswoman, Sheila Coleman, said: “SYP is the common denominator that unites Orgreave and Hillsborough. At the inquests in Sheffield senior police officers referred to the crowd on the day of the disaster in relation to the policing of the miners’ strike. Indeed their experience of the miners’ strike was used as a positive indicator of their ability to police large crowds.
“Liverpool people supported the miners and their families during their courageous fight in the 1980s. In the same spirit of solidarity, HJC extends its support to the Orgreave justice campaigners.
The corrupt policing of working-class communities under Thatcher must be rigourously investigated and truthfully recorded in order for justice to be served.”
At the time of going to print, 38 MPs had signed the edm. None are Conservative.