Call For Orgreave Inquiry Gathers Pace As North-East Miners Veterans Accuse Police Of ‘Hillsborough Style Cover Up’

By  Mark Tallentire, Northern Echo 

Ian Lavery MP

Ian Lavery MP

Pressure is mounting for a full-scale public inquiry into policing of the 1984-1985 Miners’ Strike, after North-East veterans of the dispute accused senior officers of a Hillsborough style cover-up.

Former miners, union leaders and politicians from this region say a fresh investigation must be ordered into how the police handled the year-long strike, and in particular the so-called ‘Battle of Orgreave’ – one of its most divisive flashpoints, to bring justice to the estimated 7,000 men detained and “falsely charged”.

They say South Yorkshire Police, the force in charge at Orgreave and the Hillsborough football disaster five years later, deployed similar deceitful tactics in both incidents but Orgeave victims are still being ignored.

Ian Lavery, a Northumberland MP and former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president, has launched a Parliamentary motion and written to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) demanding an inquiry.

He said: “The names of hundreds and hundreds of miners, who are now fathers, grandfathers and even great-grandfathers, who participated in a noble cause received police convictions for doing so”.

Veterans have launched an Orgreave Truth and Justice campaign, an e-petition has gathered more than 2,000 signatures and 41 MPs have signed Mr Lavery’s Early Day Motion.

Dave Hopper, an Orgreave veteran and Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) general secretary, said: “If we had an inquiry, the world would know what we had to face and that we were criminalised. If it can be revisited, it should be. It should be put right.”

The Battle of Orgreave came at the height of the strike in June 1984, at a coking plant in Orgreave, South Yorkshire.

It is estimated up to 6,000 striking miners and 8,000 police were involved. Over three days, 51 miners and 72 officers were injured.

Ninety-five miners were later charged with riot and unlawful assembly but the case collapsed in court and all were acquitted.

In 1991, South Yorkshire Police (SYP) was forced to pay out £500,000 to 39 miners wrongly detained during the clash.

SYP has referred itself to the IPCC but a spokesman said the force anticipates it may take “some time” for the police watchdog to consider whether any investigation is required and, if so, its terms of reference.

The force would always co-operate with the IPCC, he added.

An IPCC spokesman said it was continuing to assess referrals from SYP and would analyse what specific allegations have been made and which, if any, warrant an IPCC investigation.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said while any decision to investigate would rest with the IPCC, it may seek legal advice and, in such circumstances, the CPS would work closely with the IPCC and advise it during that process.

However, the CPS has as yet received no IPCC request for legal advice regarding Orgreave, a spokesman added.

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