MPs and campaigners step up demand for answers over police actions at Orgreave and Hillsborough

The Battle of Orgreave where Margret Thathcher finally achieved her dream of beating the miners.
The Battle of Orgreave where Margret Thathcher finally achieved her dream of beating the miners.
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CAMPAIGNERS and one of the region’s MPs have stepped up the call for clarity over police actions at the so-called Battle of Orgreave during the miners’ strike and their links to the Hillsborough disaster.

Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, has written to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) demanding the full unredacted report into the events surrounding Orgreave be published.

Louise Haigh MP outside Parliament

Louise Haigh MP outside Parliament

The news comes on the same day that the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign called on the new interim chief constable of South Yorkshire Police Dave Jones to open up the force’s archives.

The calls are made after The Yorkshire Post gained exclusive access to the redacted sections of the report which showed that the same senior officers and solicitor were involved both in the aftermath of Orgreave and Hillsborough in 1989.

Former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, who was famously arrested during Orgreave disturbances, also made a rare public intervention and also called for a public inquiry into what happened following the YP’s revelations.

A copy of Ms Haigh’s letter to Anne Owers, chair of the IPCC, seen by The Yorkshire Post, calls for the body to “urgently release the unredacted version of the report published in June last year so the public can see for themselves the true extent of the events surrounding Orgreave”.

The interim chief constable of South Yorkshire David Jones. Picture: Andrew Roe

The interim chief constable of South Yorkshire David Jones. Picture: Andrew Roe

It says: “Clearly, unless we get to the bottom of the events of that day we will not know the full extent of malpractice at South Yorkshire Police. Community relations with the police in former mining communities remain damaged to this day and there is a sense that Orgreave became a training ground for the type of practices which reached their tragic consequences at the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989.”

South Yorkshire Police referred itself to the IPCC in 2012 over allegations officers colluded to write court statements relating to Orgreave.

The watchdog later said the passage of time prevented a formal investigation but said there was “support” for the allegation that senior police exaggerated pickets’ use of violence.

The commission said on Tuesday is it now considering whether an unredacted version of the report can now be made public.

Riot police were faced by pickets at the Orgreave coke works in Yorkshire during the miners' strike.

Riot police were faced by pickets at the Orgreave coke works in Yorkshire during the miners' strike.

Campaign secretary Barbara Jackson said: “We would be prepared to meet with Dave Jones if it’s going to be a productive meeting, and not just a token gesture.

“We have our legal submission that’s been with Theresa May since mid December. Our view is that if Dave Jones wants to be helpful and move things along, he needs to contact Theresa May and say: ‘you must be near in making a decision about whether to grant these people what they want and, if you do grant them what they want, I can assure you that I will open our archives, I will offer you the full cooperation of the South Yorkshire Police in pursuing the objective of the Orgreave campaigners’.

“That would be really helpful.”

She added: “There’s a huge cry now for more transparency and more accountability about these long-running injustices.

“It’s really unfair that ordinary people have to campaign for years and years and fight against all odds to get what they know is the truth out there and admitted by the police.

“The South Yorkshire Police stands disgraced yet again by the appalling way they defended themselves in the Hillsborough inquests and fought back, resurrected all the lies.”

The events of the “Battle of Orgreave” came to symbolise the 1984 strike. It took place at a coking plant on the borders of Rotherham and Sheffield, when large numbers of pickets were confronted by around 6,000 police from all around the UK.

A total of 95 miners were charged following the disturbances but their trial collapsed.

Virtually all traces of the coking plant and the pit next to it have now been eradicated.

Mr Scargill told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I want to see a full open public inquiry and the individuals responsible should be named.

“I accuse those individuals now.”

A spokeswoman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the report it published last year was redacted, partly because of the ongoing Hillsborough inquests.

She said that this decision was now being reconsidered following the conclusion of the hearings but noted that criminal investigations into Hillsborough were still ongoing.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said: “As I’ve always said, we won’t have the truth about Hillsborough until we have the full truth about Orgreave.

“Finally, this report provides proof of what has long been suspected - that underhand tactics were used first against South Yorkshire miners, before being deployed to much more deadly effect against Liverpool supporters.”

Mr Burnham added: “Like the people of Liverpool, the mining communities of South Yorkshire now need to be told the truth about their police force and the policing of the miners’ strike.

“On the back of these revelations, Theresa May must now order a disclosure process not just on Orgreave but on the policing of the miners’ strike.”

Dave Jones, who is the chief constable of North Yorkshire, was appointed to run South Yorkshire Police on a temporary basis on Tuesday.

His appointment follows the suspension of South Yorkshire chief constable David Crompton following the Hillsborough inquests and the short lived tenure of his deputy, Dawn Copley, who stood down from the temporary role after it emerged she was under investigation for alleged misconduct by her previous force.