Watchdog probes legacy of Orgreave

NOSTNW  THE Battle of Orgreave where Margret Thathcher finally achieved her dream of beating the miners.
NOSTNW THE Battle of Orgreave where Margret Thathcher finally achieved her dream of beating the miners.
Have your say

ACTION is still being considered over police conduct towards striking miners during the Battle of Orgreave in 1984, and the way in which officers documented the disturbance.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it is continuing to assess referrals from South Yorkshire Police in relation to clashes between officers and miners during the strike of 1984-5, and subsequent court cases which collapsed over flawed evidence provided by South Yorkshire Police.

Some 95 miners were prosecuted - and later acquitted - over clashes with police on the picket line at Orgreave Pit.

Michael Mansfield QC, who represented three acquitted miners at the time, described South Yorkshire Police’s discredited evidence then as ‘the biggest frame-up ever’.

IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: “The events of Orgreave have left a lasting legacy of anger and distrust of police, which has been communicated to me frequently during my appointment as Commissioner.

“The fact the events occurred almost 30 years ago creates a complex legal problem that we are attempting to work through.

“We believe we have established that the complaints and allegations would come under IPCC jurisdiction to investigate. However, that is not the end of the story.

“We must now examine the documentation to establish what matters can be properly investigated.

“Only then can we apply the test under recently introduced legislation to establish whether those allegations fall under the category of ‘exceptional circumstances’ which is the test for whether we should investigate.”

The IPCC is looking at the Orgreave events in the wake of the publication of the independent panel’s report into all the official Hillsborough records held by organisations since the football disaster in 1989, in which 96 fans lost their lives.

It emerged there that police officer statements had been altered to shift blame for the disaster on to the Liverpool fans.

A TV documentary about Orgreave was made after the Hillsborough report was published, prompting South Yorkshire Police chiefs to refer their own force to the IPCC.

The IPCC’s legal team is now assessing what jurisdiction it has, what legislation would be enforceable, and what misconduct regimes would be applicable for events dating back 30 years. It is looking at specific allegations and deciding which, if any, warrant an investigation.

The IPCC said the key issues are establishing which complaints have been made previously, what allegations were made, how those complaints were handled, and which individual officers were subject to complaint.

The process is likely to take many months.