THE GOVERNMENT has used its “swift action” over the Hillsborough tragedy to demonstrate how seriously it is considering the request for an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave.
Home Secretary Theresa May is still looking at evidence on whether or not to launch a public inquiry into the 1984 Orgreave miners’ strike five months after the original request landed on her desk.
The Prime Minister said today that Mrs May will “come to her conclusions in the right time” on whether to agree to an inquiry but Downing Street were keen to point out how the Cameron government has a past record of quick but considered decision making, when it comes to historic events relating to South Yorkshire Police.
The response from Mr Cameron was prompted after Gill Furniss, the brand new MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, asked David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions if he would commit to an investigation into the confrontation which took place on June 18 1984.
The Yorkshire Post exclusively revealed last week the links between an alleged cover-up carried out by senior South Yorkshire Police officers at the time and the force’s actions five years later at Hillsborough.
Ms Furniss said: “Twenty-seven years ago in my constituency we saw the country’s biggest sporting disaster.
“It is clear we won’t have the full truth about Hillsborough until we have the full truth about Orgreave and the policing of the miners strike.
“Will the Prime Minister accept the call by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and initiate an inquiry?”
Mr Cameron said: “My Right Honorable Friend the Home Secretary has met with that group and is considering the points they have put forward and will come to her conclusions in the right time.”
In December the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign asked Mrs May to launch a public inquiry into the policing of the violent clash between police and picketing miners that left 50 people injured and 95 miners arrested at the coking plant, near Rotherham. When the cases came to court, all were abandoned after it became clear that evidence provided by police was unreliable.
However following the verdict that Liverpool football fans had been unlawfully killed at Hillsborough, and the revelations made by the Yorkshire Post linking the two incidents, there has been renewed pressure on the Government to make up their mind on whether or not they will pursue in an investigation.
The Prime Mnister’s spokesperson said: “It is important that we look at these issues properly and try and get the decision right. “The panel took time to look very carefully at the situation in Hillsborough and gave a very comprehensive and detailed report and it was on that basis that we were able to make a very strong case for the inquest to be re-opened. Those inquests have just recently just finished and we all know the very powerful outcome of those.
“So it is important for a proper process to follow.”
The spokesperson hammered home the speed in which the Cameron Government has dealt with Hillsborough.
He said: “It was under this Government that we have taken action on Hillsborough. Andy Burnham obviously announced the plans to set up the panel. That was set up under this Prime Minister and funded by this Government, produced a report and on the back of that report it was this Government that got the inquest re-opened. It was the then Attorney General who actually appeared in court to make that case and we have had the inquests recently.
“So this Government has taken very swift action and dealt with issues around Hillsborough and that is something which we think has been widely welcomed.”
Ms Furniss, who was married to the late MP Harry Harpham, said David Cameron’s answer was “non-committal” but was determined to keep pushing for the answers that ex-miners and their families deserve.
She said: “The Hillsborough inquests have shown how important it is to get to the truth, no matter how much time has passed. The 1980s were not a good time for policing in South Yorkshire, and without a public inquiry into both Hillsborough and Orgreave, the shadow cast by both of these tragic events will continue to linger.”
Asked about making her first appearance at PMQs, Gill added: “People have been asking if I was nervous, but I honestly wasn’t. After all, I’m not here to twiddle my thumbs. I’ve been sent here to do a job, and I’m glad that I’ve hit the ground running.”