Once secret files reveal government feared 'witch hunt' over Battle of Orgreave

Once secret files have revealed that Margaret Thatcher's government feared a 'witch hunt' if there had been a public inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave.

Thursday, 9th March 2017, 6:26 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:43 am
Police officers at the Battle of Orgreave

The files, which have now been 'declassified' and released into the National Archive, reveal that Leon Brittan, then Home Secretary, told a 1985 meeting that the 'Government should not encourage any form of enquiry into the behaviour of the police'.

He believed an inquiry into picket line tactics during the 1984-85 strike would 'turn into a witch hunt' with an 'anti-police bias', according to the files.

The documents were released after Home Secretary Amber Rudd ruled out an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave, where thousands of miners clashed with police at a coking plant at Orgreave, on the Sheffield-Rotherham border.

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Police deployed horseback charges and baton-wielding snatch squads as 6,000 officers tried to prevent striking miners blocking deliveries to the plant.

South Yorkshire Police received heavy criticism over its conduct.

The force was also required to pay compensation following the collapse of criminal cases after 95 people were charged with riot and violent disorder.

Further files are expected to be made public.