Miners’ union bosses slam Government decision on Orgreave inquiry

An image taken during the Battle of Orgreave .
An image taken during the Battle of Orgreave .

The union which leads pitworkers in the North East has branded a Government decision not to hold an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave as an “appalling act of injustice”.

Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) has slammed the announcement by Home Secretary Amber Rudd against proposals to hold probe into clashes between police and colliery workers on the picket line of the South Yorkshire mine.

Former shadow home secretary Andy Burnham issues a statement on behalf of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign in Westminister after Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced there will be no official inquiry into the 1984 clash between police and miners at Orgreave. Picture by Press Association.

Former shadow home secretary Andy Burnham issues a statement on behalf of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign in Westminister after Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced there will be no official inquiry into the 1984 clash between police and miners at Orgreave. Picture by Press Association.

Many colliery workers from the North East’s mines went to Orgreave’s coking plant to show solidarity on the pickets with their colleagues.

Ms Rudd has told MPs the 1984 strike happened too long ago and that an inquiry was not in the public interest, adding policing had changed sufficiently since Orgreave to mean an inquiry was not merited.

A spokesman for the Durham-based DMA said: “The decision of Home Secretary Amber Rudd not to hold an inquiry into the criminal actions of the South Yorkshire Police and other police forces present at the Orgreave Coke Works on June 18, 1984, is an appalling act of injustice.

“She glibly asserts: ‘ultimately there were no deaths or wrongful convictions.’

The fact that no one was killed was purely a matter of chance.

Durham Miners’ Association

“Miners were lured to Orgreave that day and subjected to a continuous series of brutal attacks employing thousands of police, supported by mounted cavalry and vicious dogs, badly injuring over 50 men.

“The fact that no one was killed was purely a matter of chance.

“However, the fact that no one was wrongfully convicted was not a matter of chance, but, due to the robust and dedicated work of the lawyers engaged to defend the 95 miners who were charged with riot – a crime carrying a life sentence.

“These lawyers proved that police evidence was fabricated and the written statements of the arresting officers were dictated by senior officers.

Arthur Scargill, pictured in June 1984, being assisted by riot police after he was injured outside the Orgreave Coking Plant near Rotherham during the miners' dispute.

Arthur Scargill, pictured in June 1984, being assisted by riot police after he was injured outside the Orgreave Coking Plant near Rotherham during the miners' dispute.

“When these statements were exposed as false the trial collapsed, but, predictably, no officers were disciplined let alone charged with criminal offences.

“However, culpability goes far beyond the police forces involved that day.

“It is impossible to believe that the premeditated assault on miners at Orgreave could have been organised without the active participation of Margaret Thatcher’s government.

“A thorough inquiry would expose the myth that the police are non-political and independent of government.

“That is why a public enquiry into the Battle of Orgreave is resisted by the present Tory government and the British establishment in general.

“We should never forget that Orgreave was but an extreme example of what had become common place in the coalfields and mining villages of Britain in 1984/85 and we will continue to campaign until we get justice.

Campaigners have said they will seek a judicial review into a decision not to hold an inquiry.

Ms Rudd has been accused of dodging fresh questions about the decision by failing to show up for an urgent question in the Commons.

Former shadow home secretary Andy Burnham led the criticism of Ms Rudd, who left Home Office minister Brandon Lewis to defend the move.