Orgreave police told to use 'as much force as possible against miners', claims officer

New claims have been made about the Battle of Orgreave
New claims have been made about the Battle of Orgreave
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Police at the 1984 Battle of Orgreave were told to use 'as much force as possible' against striking miners, a former officer has claimed.

A former Merseyside constable who was among 6,000 officers called in to bolster police ranks protecting the Orgreave coke works told the BBC senior officers 'were anticipating trouble and in some ways relishing it'.

The officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said senior South Yorkshire Police officers briefed them the night before the clashes on June 18.

He said: "They were anticipating trouble and in some ways relishing it and looking forward to it.

"It was a licence to do what we wanted, which I didn't think was right because we didn't know what was going to happen."

The man said officers had been ordered to charge the miners.

"There were running battles and miners were falling over and police officers were batoning them," the officer said.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was just seeing police officers attack people. These were people on the ground and even if they weren't doing anything - just walking away - police officers had their batons and they were just hitting people."

A total of 95 miners were arrested at Orgreave, but court cases against them collapsed a year later due to unreliable police evidence.

South Yorkshire Police later paid £425,000 in compensation to 39 pickets in out-of-court settlements.

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign has been fighting for a new inquiry into the policing at Orgreave, with Home Secretary Amber Rudd due to make a decision in the next few weeks.

A force spokesman said of the latest allegations: "We are acutely aware of the impact such long-standing unanswered questions can have on those directly, and indirectly, affected by this incident.

"Should there be an inquiry then we will fully participate to help find answers to those unanswered questions."