YP Letters: Comparing Orgreave to Hillsborough is insult to the dead

Protesters outside the Home Office demanding an inquiry into the so-called 'Battle of Orgreave' in 1984.
Protesters outside the Home Office demanding an inquiry into the so-called 'Battle of Orgreave' in 1984.
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From: MP Cooper, Retired police officer, Harrogate.

I AM responding to recent articles in The Yorkshire Post about the disturbances at Orgreave on June 18, 1984, during the Miners’ Strike. I was present on that day with a contingent of North Yorkshire officers.

Prior to that, I had attended the Selby coalfield on a number of occasions with staff from all over North Yorkshire and other forces supplied under the Mutual Aid system.

It annoys me to compare the tragic Hillsborough disaster with the Orgreave incident, as the two have no links other than they both occurred in the South Yorkshire area some years apart. There were only South Yorkshire officers policing Hillsborough whereas the police officers deployed to Orgreave were from across the country.

The instructions to officers on the ground at Orgreave from our inspector was that we were there to allow the passage of wagons on the highway into the coking plant, and it was suspected from intelligence that a large number of miners and other protesters were there to stop the wagons entering the plant.

Our serial was deployed on the main road prior to the arrest of NUM leader Arthur Scargill – and was in situ when the horses went through to disperse the disorderly crowd.

Officers at the front of the police cordon were from Greater Manchester Police, and had been subjected to abuse, stone-throwing and spitting over a prolonged period. The order was given by the senior officer at the front of the cordon for the horses to charge and the front short shield unit to advance 50 yards and make arrests of any identified offenders.

I saw a number of arrests and force had to be used to restrain some of the prisoners. I also saw ahead of the police line a large Calor Gas bottle on fire being rolled down the incline by protesters towards us.

Although this public order situation was threatening, the police tactics used were proportionate – no miners were seriously hurt and there were no fatalities. This was also true of the police casualties. To call it a battle is not correct, it should have been a lawful protest.

To waste public money on an inquiry into an event nearly 33 years ago is obscene when there are other national issues today which need resourcing. The miners should move on – they gave as good as they got without the loss of any lives.

MPs like Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper are out of touch with reality and should not compare the two events which is an insult to the deceased at Hillsborough.