It’s 31 years today since Orgreave, and the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign has issued the following press release reasserting the determination of campaigners to carry on fighting for truth and justice.
95 miners were arrested at Orgreave after thousands of police officers – many in riot gear, with others on horseback – brutally assaulted miners participating in a strike aimed at defending jobs and mining communities. However when the subsequent court cases took place all of the charges – which included, in many cases, riot – were abandoned when it became clear that the police’s oral and written evidence was unreliable. Each prosecution had been supported by two police officers making near-identical statements. Later, South Yorkshire Police (SYP) paid out £425,000 in compensation to 39 pickets in out of court settlements. Nevertheless, no police officers were disciplined for misconduct or charged for the injuries they caused to those they attacked.
It was in November 2012 that SYP – already under pressure following the release of the report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel that has led to fresh inquests into the death of 96 Liverpool fans – referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to decide whether there should be a full investigation into what happened at Orgreave on 18 June and in the earlier picketing at the plant in May/June 1984.
The IPCC took 2.5 years to conduct a scoping (initial investigation) but last week announced that due to the historical nature of the allegations it would not be conducting a full investigation. The IPCC had failed to locate a series of important documents including the policing operational orders drawn up for 18 June. The police watchdog’s report did though identify a cover up by SYP of malpractice it knew had taken place and largely conceded that only a public inquiry can eventually get to the truth.
OTJC was not surprised at the IPCC’s decision and is buoyed by the news that the Home Secretary Theresa May has subsequently stated she would consider any request to set up a public inquiry into Orgreave. OTJC is currently taking some legal advice about how best to proceed and meanwhile there are plans for a Parliamentary meeting with MPs. The struggle for a public inquiry will therefore be reaffirmed at the 31st anniversary rally this Thursday.