Another Yorkshire police chief backs new inquiry on miners' Battle of Orgreave

A SECOND Yorkshire chief constable has given their backing for a new inquiry into the 1984 Battle of Orgreave - saying there were still 'unanswered questions' about the clashes between police and striking miners.

The Battle of Orgreave took place in June 1984
The Battle of Orgreave took place in June 1984

Temporary chief constable Dee Collins of West Yorkshire Police is the latest senior figure to call for an investigation into the events of June 18, 1984, and the South Yorkshire Police investigation which led to the criminal case against 95 miners collapsing.

She told BBC Radio Leeds: “If we truly believe ourselves to be victim-centred, then for as long as there are unanswered questions, we owe it to people to try and understand what happened, what have we learned.”

Home Secretary Theresa May has been coming under increasing pressure to launch a new inquiry into the events at Orgreave, which saw 95 miners arrested at the Orgreave coking plant, near Rotherham, after clashes with police which left 50 people injured.

When the cases came to court, all were abandoned after it became clear that evidence provided by police was unreliable. South Yorkshire Police later paid £425,000 in compensation to 39 pickets in out-of-court settlements.

Dave Jones, who took over as interim chief constable at South Yorkshire Police after his predecessor David Crompton was suspended in the aftermath of the Hillsborough inquests verdict, issued a statement earlier this month saying he would welcome “an appropriate independent assessment” of the events of 1984.

He said: “The Hillsborough Inquests have brought into sharp focus the need to understand and confront the past and give people the opportunity to explore the circumstances of such significant events.

“I would therefore welcome an appropriate independent assessment of Orgreave accepting that the way in which this is delivered is a matter for the Home Secretary.”

Last June, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it would “not be in the public interest” to launch a full investigation into claims police used excessive force against miners, had their statements manipulated and gave false evidence in court to justify spurious criminal charges.

After carrying out a two-year scoping review, the watchdog said the “passage of time” meant allegations of assault and misconduct by police could not now be pursued, and that some were subject to complaints and civil proceedings at the time.

The Yorkshire Post recently revealed redacted sections of the report which revealed that the same senior officers and solicitor were involved both in the aftermath of Orgreave and Britain’s worst sporting disaster in 1989.

The previously censored sections of the dossier suggested that these officials became aware South Yorkshire Police officers had perjured themselves at the miners’ trial in 1984, but kept this fact secret.

Another officer interviewed about the alleged Hillsborough cover-up by South Yorkshire Police claimed that some of his colleagues were told by unspecified officers not to write anything in their notebooks both at the time of Orgreave and then instructed to do the same in the aftermath of the 1989 disaster.

The disclosures, which can be revealed now that the jury has returned its verdicts on the unlawful killing of 96 Liverpool football fans, will strengthen the claims of campaigners that the same malpractice and police tactics used to blame fans after Britain’s worst sporting disaster were first used five years earlier in relation to Orgreave.

As a result, it is alleged, the crisis-hit police force was able to repeat the same tactics in the aftermath to deflect attention from themselves in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.

Mrs May has been considering an application by campaigners to launch a new inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave for several months but has yet to indicate whether any further action will be taken.

In her interview, Miss Collins said: “I can entirely understand why people will want to look at some of these legacy cases, particularly given that some of the officers involved in Hillsborough apparently were involved in some of the decision-making.

“I understand the basis of some of these pleas. I suppose my concern is that an awful lot of resources and energy would be put into that kind of enquiry, rather than dealing with some of the policing issues we are dealing with in 2016. That would be my only concern.”

Asked if she backed calls for a new inquiry, she said: “My view is, yes it should.”

She added: “For some of the families involved in Orgreave, for some of the individuals involved, they haven’t found their peace.”