Pressure for public inquiry into Battle of Orgreave mounting

Links between individuals involved in police investigations into the Battle of Orgreave and the Hillsborough disaster strengthen the case for a public inquiry, campaigners have said.

Tuesday, 17th May 2016, 6:40 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th May 2016, 6:51 am
Miners and police officers at Orgreave during the miners' strike of 1984

The Hillsborough inquests revealed how solicitor Peter Metcalf and two senior officers - Deputy Chief Constable Peter Hayes and Assistant Chief Constable Walter Jackson - were involved in both investigations.

And campaigners claim that as South Yorkshire Police did in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, it created accounts favourable to the force.

A total of 95 miners were charged following the Battle of Orgreave - when miners and police officers clashed on the picket line at the Rotherham coking plant in June 1984, but the cases collapsed after questions emerged over the validity of police accounts of the confrontation.

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Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign Secretary, Barbara Jackson, said links between the investigation of both events and some of the individuals involved cannot be ignored.

She said: "A lot of people are digging around now and looking really seriously at this in a way that probably hasn't been done before.

"We were not able to talk about this until the end of the Hillsborough inquest but it was the same police, the same chief constable, the same senior police team and, now, the same solicitor.

"It was the same issues over the falsification of statements and it was the same solicitor advising."

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

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.

The commission said earlier this month that it is now considering whether an unredacted version of its report into Orgreave can now be made public.

South Yorkshire's chief constable Dave Jones marked the moment he took over temporary control of the South Yorkshire force by offering to listen to the Orgreave activists, as well as families of the 96 football fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster.

Mrs Jackson said the group has not yet heard from Mr Jones.

She said they want the chief constable to intervene in their legal bid to push Home Secretary Theresa May to hold a public inquiry into the events at Orgreave 32 years ago.

Former miners' leader Arthur Scargill, who was famously arrested during Orgreave disturbances, has also called for a public inquiry into what happened.