'Real concerns' over format of potential Orgreave inquiry, say campaigners

The Battle of Orgreave unfolds
The Battle of Orgreave unfolds
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Campaigners calling for an investigation into police actions at Orgreave have said they have 'real concerns' about the type of inquiry that could be established by the Government.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is due to make an announcement in the next few days about whether an inquiry will be ordered.

The Home Secretary has been studying the background to the issue and has been reading submissions sent to her by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign ahead a decision being taken by the end of this month.

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign say it is vital that an investigation is conducted in an effective manner.

Barbara Jackson, secretary of the campaign, said: "We trust that Amber Rudd will announce the only right decision, namely that there must be an inquiry into what happened at Orgreave and after it.

"These events are too serious to let them lie.

"However we have real concerns about what sort of inquiry the Home Secretary will establish: history is littered with examples of inquiries that have disappointed, such as the 'establishment-led' Stuart Smith Scrutiny into Hillsborough, which completely failed to get to the truth, and we are keen to ensure that the Home Secretary does not make similar mistakes over Orgreave”.

Around 6,000 officers are alleged to have used excessive force to suppress a miners’ strike at Orgreave in 1984.

A total of 95 miners were charged after the clashes but their trial collapsed.

South Yorkshire Police referred itself to the IPCC in 2012 over allegations officers colluded to write court statements.

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

Among the campaigners' demands are that the inquiry has the power to compel all relevant organisations and individuals to turn over information and evidence; that the testimony of affected miners is given first-hand and that police officers who were at Orgreave are given 'the space to speak' in a similar manner to those who gave evidence to the Hillsborough inquests.

The OJTC added: "The inquiry must be transparent, open and accessible and its conclusions publicly explained.

"An inquiry conducted behind closed doors will not instil confidence: it is important that those involved at Orgreave and the wider public are able to see the process taking place and read the evidence obtained."

Campaigners said the two years of investigation into Orgreave by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and availability of full transcripts from the Orgreave criminal trials gives the potential inquiry a 'substantial head start' - meaning it should not be expensive or overly long.