Orgreave campaign group publishes new report and demands inquiry as “truth remains hidden” 40 years on

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Four decades on from the Battle of Orgreave, a new report has been released making a further case for an inquiry to “bring police and government to account”.

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) group’s report contains new information about what happened that day and the “cover up” that followed.

On June 18, 1984, striking coal miners from across the country attended Orgreave Colliery & Coking Works in Rotherham, planning to disrupt deliveries.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The report details how, after ushering miners into the field south of the coking plant, around 6,000 police officers “ran amok, clubbing and arresting miners indiscriminately.”

It reads: “One officer was seen on television straddling a defenceless miner on the ground and battering him repeatedly about the head with his truncheon.

Ranks of police face the picketing line outside Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham. Photo credit: PA WireRanks of police face the picketing line outside Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham. Photo credit: PA Wire
Ranks of police face the picketing line outside Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham. Photo credit: PA Wire

“Many of those who couldn’t or wouldn’t run were assaulted with batons, causing several serious injuries … It was a miracle no-one was killed.”

Patrick McCarroll, a miner at Orgreave, said: "I was terrified. Anyone that says they weren't is a liar.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“There were dogs everywhere. I was chased all the way. The dogs were barking, I ran across the railway line. I ran and ran, there were horses chasing men through the car park. 

“There were people hiding up trees, people trying to hide everywhere.”

Riot police and pickets at Orgreave (Photo: Dennis Lound)Riot police and pickets at Orgreave (Photo: Dennis Lound)
Riot police and pickets at Orgreave (Photo: Dennis Lound)

The OTJC says in the report: “It is the same police officers who were involved in covering up what really happened at Hillsborough who have worked to cover up the truth about Orgreave.”

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) confirmed there was evidence of excessive police violence, a false narrative from police exaggerating violence from miners, perjury by officers giving evidence against miners, and an apparent cover-up of that perjury by senior officers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

71 picketers were charged with riot, which was punishable by life imprisonment at the time.

Solicitor Gareth Peirce said the charge was used “to make a public example of people, as a device to assist in breaking the strike”.

(Photo: Dennis Lound)(Photo: Dennis Lound)
(Photo: Dennis Lound)

A further 24 picketers were charged with violent disorder.

The trials later collapsed when the evidence given by police was deemed unreliable in court.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In June 1991, South Yorkshire Police paid £425,000 in compensation to 39 former miners for assault, wrongful arrest, unlawful detention, and malicious prosecution.

Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government publicly maintained an attitude of “non-involvement” in Orgreave and in the 1984/85 miners’ strike.

Riot policeline up at Orgreave (Photo: Dennis Lound)Riot policeline up at Orgreave (Photo: Dennis Lound)
Riot policeline up at Orgreave (Photo: Dennis Lound)

However, the new report states Thatcher instructed a special unit to plan out how to withstand a strike, the Home Office increased police powers in secret, and the Government interfered in court proceedings.

The OTJC believes Thatcher’s government and senior police officers willingly circumvented ‘legal governance protections’ to avoid accountability, and successive Conservative governments have exacerbated the cover up by rejecting calls for an inquiry.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In 2016, Alan Billings, former South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, admitted SYP had been "dangerously close to being used as an instrument of state”.

The OTJC report reads: “We believe this cover up includes the Government’s interference in operational policing, police financing, charging levels, and the courts

“It also covers up the creation of a manual of paramilitary-style tactical options, a number of which were deployed for the first time at Orgreave.”

The campaigners believe former Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s rejection of an inquiry in 2016 was a further cover up of political interference before and during the miners’ strike.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A year later, some Home Office files were released in an attempt to reduce public concern and enable closure for those personally affected, but OTJC says the files “raise more questions that only a robust investigation can piece together and resolve.”

Kate Flannery, Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign secretary, said: "With the National Archive files released it is obvious that [Thatcher’s] involvement alone is enough for an inquiry into Orgreave.

Riot police and picket at Orgreave .Riot police and picket at Orgreave .
Riot police and picket at Orgreave .

“There are still many government files held back – some of which are under lock and key until at least 2066. An inquiry should reveal what is in those files and what has been held back for 40 years." 

The report notes that quickly securing an inquiry and public acknowledgement of “why and what the State did” is particularly important due to the age and health of many of the impacted miners.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Kevin Horne, a miner arrested at Orgreave, said: "There has been no accountability of policing at Orgreave. This sent a very clear message that the police could employ violence with impunity. 

“This must surely have set a culture for the police cover up in 1989 at Hillsborough.”

Mr Horne added: “The police lied in their statements and in court about what they did at Orgreave. We want the answers to questions about the lying and violent behaviour of the police. 

“We want to know how police officers were briefed and why they were not held to account by the Director of Public Prosecutions or their own employer."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A physical copy of the report, ‘Orgreave Truth and Justice: 40 years on, the case for an Inquiry’, is being delivered to the Home Office and the major political parties’ headquarters today (June 18).

In its party manifesto, released last week, Labour promised to “ensure, through an investigation or inquiry, that the truth about the events at Orgreave comes to light”.