Pressure mounts for public inquiry into Battle of Orgreave

The Battle of Orgreave
The Battle of Orgreave
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Campaigners fighting for a public inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave will meet Home Secretary Amber Rudd today.

They will be joined by Shadow Home Secretary, Andy Burnham, who is backing calls for a probe into South Yorkshire Police's handling of events outside Orgreave coking plant during the 1984 miners' strike, where pickets and police officers clashed.

The Labour frontbencher said Cabinet papers which emerged over the weekend 'appeared to show undue pressure placed on the police and courts' by ministers to increase and fast track the prosecutions of miners.

A total of 95 miners were charged following the disturbances, but their trials collapsed.

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Members of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign met former Home Secretary, Theresa May, who is now Prime Minister, last year to call for an inquiry.

They claim there are parallels between the Hillsborough disaster and the Battle of Orgreave, which both involved South Yorkshire Police.

Police statements were altered and false accounts were given of what had happened at Hillsborough when 96 football fans were crushed to death at a football match in 1984, and Orgreave campaigners now want the force held to account over the infamous clash between pickets and bobbies.

Mr Burnham said: "Theresa May came into office promising to heal divides in our society and if she is to be true to those words she must order an inquiry into Orgreave without any further delay.

"Following the conclusion of the Hillsborough Inquest earlier this year, the evidence trail now firmly points towards Orgreave. There are clear parallels between police tactics at Hillsborough and Orgreave, both on the day and in the aftermath.

"I promised the Hillsborough families the full truth and it is clear they won't have it until we also know the truth about Orgreave - this is the same police force, using the same tactics just five years before. People need to understand Orgreave if they are to understand how the Hillsborough cover-up ever came to happen.

"In the past few days, new evidence has emerged both on the policing at Orgreave on the day and later political involvement, which makes the case for an inquiry undeniable. I will be asking the Home Secretary to respond to this today and order an inquiry.

"Mining communities have waited long enough for the truth and it is within Theresa May's gift to establish it without them having to wait any longer."

The bitter dispute at Orgreave in June 1984 resulted in dozens of injuries on both sides.

Pickets complained of excessive force by some of the 6,000 officers brought in for the strike.

South Yorkshire Police referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in 2012 over allegations officers colluded to write court statements about the clash.

The watchdog later said the passage of time prevented a formal investigation, but said there was 'support' for the allegation that senior police exaggerated pickets' use of violence.