Orgreave inquiry needed to reveal full truth on ‘rotten’ police actions at Hillsborough - MPs

The Battle of Orgreave unfolds
The Battle of Orgreave unfolds
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The ‘full truth’ about South Yorkshire Police’s actions over Hillsborough will not be known until the Battle of Orgreave is investigated, Andy Burnham has said.

The shadow home secretary told the House of Commons 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.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham responds after Home Secretary Theresa May made a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, London following the jury verdict in the Hillsborough inquests

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham responds after Home Secretary Theresa May made a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, London following the jury verdict in the Hillsborough inquests

Mr Burnham also said he believes the position of South Yorkshire Police chief constable David Crompton to be ‘untenable’ due to the police approach to the Hillsborough inquests and labelled the leadership of the force as ‘rotten to the core’.

He said: “I promised the families the whole truth about Hillsborough.

“I don’t believe they will have it until we know the truth about Orgreave.

“This force 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.

“There has been an IPCC report on Orgreave. But parts of it are redacted. It has been put to me that those contain evidence of direct links between Orgreave and Hillsborough.

“This is a time for transparency, not secrecy – time for the people of South Yorkshire to know the full truth about their police force.

“This force hasn’t learned and hasn’t changed.

“Let me be clear – I don’t blame the ordinary police officers, the men and women who did their best on the day and who today are out keeping our streets safe.

“But I do blame their leadership and culture, which seems rotten to the core.

“Orgreave, Hillsborough, Rotherham – how much more evidence do we need before we act?”

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

Ninety-five 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.

Orgreave campaigners have said the unlawful killins verdict in the Hillsborough inquest will ‘spur on’ their efforts to press for a full public inquiry.

Mr Burnham’s call for a public inquiry have been backed by Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh.

She said: “A public inquiry would be a huge step towards uncovering the truth around the events at Orgreave and the simple fact is we cannot know the truth about malpractice at South Yorkshire Police until we know the truth about Orgreave.

“I’m pleased the Home Secretary is still personally considering the Orgreave campaign’s legal submission before considering whether to launch a public inquiry.

“The evidence of lies and smears by senior police officers which - thanks to the incredible dedication of Hillsborough families - have now been uncovered were unfortunately not unique to the Hillsborough disaster.

“At Orgreave, the IPCC have found evidence of perjury, misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice by the South Yorkshire Police force. It is now time that truth came out.”

Mr Burnham also told Parliament that during the inquest process, South Yorkshire Police had gone back on its 2012 public apology following the release of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report. Following that report, chief constable David Crompton said senior officers had told ‘disgraceful lies’ blaming Liverpool fans for the disaster and he was ‘profoundly sorry’.

But Mr Burnham said those comments had not been reflected in the approach of the police’s legal team to the inquests.

He said: “Shamefully, the cover-up continued in this Warrington court room. Millions of pounds of public money were spent re-telling discredited lies.

“Lawyers for retired officers threw disgusting slurs; those for today’s force tried to establish that others were responsible for the opening of the gate.

“If the police had chosen to maintain its apology, this inquest would have been much shorter.

“But they didn’t and they put the families through hell once again.”

South Yorkshire Police said on Wednesday that it had never sought during the inquests to defend its failures.

The force said coroner Sir John Goldring had ruled that to admit the 2012 apology to the jury would be ‘highly prejudicial’.

In a statement, SYP said: “We have never sought, at any stage, to defend the failures of SYP or its officers. Nevertheless, these failures had to be put into the context of other contributory factors. In other words, where do the failings of SYP stand in the overall picture?

“We are sorry if our approach has been perceived as at odds with our earlier apology, this was certainly not our intention.”

But their comments were criticised by Home Secretary Theresa May.

She said: “I think everybody will be disappointed and indeed concerned by some of the remarks that have been made by South Yorkshire Police today. I would urge South Yorkshire Police force to recognise the verdict of the jury.

“Yes, they must get on with the day-to-day job today of policing within their force area. But I think they do need to look at what happened, at what the verdicts have shown, recognise the truth and be willing to accept that.”