Miners’ Strike inquiry ‘should not just focus on Orgreave’

Supporters gather at the Orgreave Rally in 2015
Supporters gather at the Orgreave Rally in 2015
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A new independent inquiry should focus on the wider policing tactics of the national Miners’ Strike instead of just the Battle of Orgreave, Sheffield MP Clive Betts has said.

Renewed calls have been made for an Orgreave inquiry in the wake of the Hillsborough unlawful killings verdicts, with shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham saying such an investigation would help reveal the ‘full truth’ about the approach South Yorkshire Police took to Liverpool football supporters in 1989.

Mr Burnham told Parliament last week he understood that a redacted IPCC report into policing tactics at Orgreave contained evidence of ‘direct links’ between what happened there and the events of Hillsborough five years later.

He said South Yorkshire Police ‘used the same underhand tactics against its own people in the aftermath of the miners’ strike that it would later use, to more deadly effect, against the people of Liverpool’.

But Mr Betts said any potential inquiry should have a wider remit than just focusing on Orgreave alone and should instead examine how police were directed to deal with the Miners’ Strike by Margaret Thatcher’s Government.

He said: “Orgreave was not by and large South Yorkshire Police. It was a national policing operation and most weren’t South Yorkshire Police officers.

“Let us have a look at policing over the national Miners’ Strike.”

He said such an inquiry could ‘by all means look at Orgreave’ but should also examine the wider picture of what was happening at the time.

Home Secretary Theresa May has said she is currently considering a legal submission from Orgreave campaigners in which they have called for a full public inquiry to be launched.

Campaigners hope for an inquiry similar to the Hillsborough Independent Panel report in 2012 which resulted in the original inquest verdicts being quashed, new hearings ordered and a major criminal investigation being launched.

More than 90 people were arrested in the clash between picketing miners and police in June 1984.

All cases were abandoned due to unreliable evidence and South Yorkshire Police paid £425,000 in out-of-court settlements to 39 pickets.

Last June, the IPCC announced it would not be conducting an investigation into South Yorkshire Police’s handling of events at Orgreave and the subsequent prosecutions - partly due to the passage of time since the events.

But the IPCC did find potential evidence of perjury, misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice by police officers.