Police watchdog slated over Orgreave report

THE POLICE watchdog’s report into the handling of violence during the 1984 miners’ strike calls into question whether the body is “fit for purpose”, a former shadow minister has warned.

A member of the picket inspecting the police outside the Orgreave Coking plant near Rotherham during the miners' dispute, as the miners' strike started in Yorkshire in early March 1984

Labour’s Helen Jones said there was “deep concern” that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had recommended no further action in relation to events at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire.

It has announced it will not be investigating the allegations of serious misconduct against South Yorkshire Police, suggesting that doing so would require a Hillsborough-style public inquiry.

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The Warrington North MP, formerly a shadow justice and home office minister, said: “There is deep concern the recent IPCC report into events at Orgreave recommended no further action despite finding evidence of serious criminality during and after those demonstrations.

“Can you ensure the home secretary comes to the House to make a statement because these events have ensured a denial of justice to those people involved at Orgreave. They also call into question whether the IPCC is fit for purpose.”

Leader of the Commons Chris Grayling joked it had been the week the Labour party of the 1980s “came back to life”, prompting groans from the Opposition.

The senior Tory added: “The IPCC has looked at these issues, it has reached its conclusions and there I’m afraid I believe the matter should rest.”

Earlier this week, Commons Speaker John Bercow urged Labour’s youngest MP Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley) to seek a parliamentary debate on the subject when she raised it in a point of order.

A press conference at the NUM headquarters in Barnsley after the IPCC announcement that there would be no public inquiry into the events at Orgreave

Campaigners called for a Hillsborough-style inquiry in the aftermath of the IPCC’s announcement, which came more than two years after the force referred itself to the body.

South Yorkshire Police - which is already under intense scrutiny over its role in the Hillsborough disaster - faced claims that officers used “excessive force” against picketing miners, manipulated statements and gave false evidence in court.

But following a two-year analysis of thousands of pages of documents related to the case, the IPCC said it had decided not to launch an investigation.