'Show us the Orgreave files before we die' - Former South Yorkshire miner's message to the Government and police

Former miner Frank Arrowsmith has called for more funding to help speed up the release of files about the so-called Battle of Orgreave during the 1984 Miners' Strike so that those involved are able to see them.

Tuesday, 20th February 2018, 1:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th February 2018, 2:00 pm
Frank Arrowsmith.

Mr Arrowsmith, who was a trade union leader at Yorkshire Main Colliery in Edlington during the strike, called for South Yorkshire Police police and crime commissioner Dr Alan Billings to be given additional Government funding so that around 800 to 1,000 files can be released.

It comes after the Commons' Home Affairs Committee chairman Yvette Cooper wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd asking her to set up an independent review of the extensive archive held by the force.

Mr Arrowsmith, 69, who was arrested three times during the strike, said: "We are all pushing towards 70 now and I am not saying that the commissioner is fobbing us off but what we are saying is he needs some extra funding to speed up the process.

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"We need to give the people that were involved that day and their families justice. We aren't getting any younger and it's moving along at a snail's pace."

Mr Arrowsmith said he wrote to Dr Billings last year and was initially told the cataloguing would be completed by the end of the year, adding he felt the commissioner and the force needed more help.

"On the big day on June 18, 1984, South Yorkshire Police brought in officers from forces across the country but because it was South Yorkshire who had strategic command, it had to collate files from all of the other forces," he said.

"If Dr Billings is saying it's taking a long time then the force should be given more funding to help."

In her letter, the Labour MP for for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford said SYP had not completed its cataloguing of its Orgreave archive and this invovled 782 files in 84 archive boxes.

But she said the force said it had since located another 10 boxes.

She said: "This is a far greater amount of material, by a significant margin, than has been identified as being held by any other public body and its scale clearly merits urgent attention.

"These files need urgently to be examined so that as much of this information as possible can now be published. But it has to be an independent review to have credibility - which is why we have asked the Home Secretary to set it up, so that as many files as possible can then be released."

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: "South Yorkshire Police recognises public concern about the events at Orgreave, and we have been very clear about our intent to make as much of the relevant documentation as is possible, available to the public.

"To that end, an archivist, funded by the police and crime commissioner, has spent a number of months reviewing and cataloguing the material. This process is set to continue over the next few months, following which we will seek to follow the process undertaken by both the Home Office and the Cabinet Office, and place the documents in the National Archives."