BREAKING: Home Secretary rejects inquiry into Orgreave clash between police and miners

The Home Secretary Amber Rudd has ruled out an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave, claiming that there would be 'very few lessons' to be learnt.

Orgreave. Picture by PA.
Orgreave. Picture by PA.

In a written statement, Mrs Rudd said it had been a “difficult decision” but she did not believe establishing “any kind of inquiry is required to allay public concerns”.

She acknowledged the news will be a “significant disappointment” to campaigners, but said the focus should be on improving policing standards through measures such as the Policing and Crime Bill.

The decision follows months of campaigning by families and communities affected by the 1984 clashes, which resulted in 71 picketers being charged with riot and 24 with violent disorder.

MPs and campaigners have been calling for a full Hillsborough-style inquiry into the incident, to investigate claims that police action on the day was excessively heavy handed and statements were manufactured to discredit those involved.

In her statements, Mrs Rudd said she had concluded “there is not a sufficient basis for me to instigate either a statutory inquiry or an independent review”.

“I know that this decision will come as a significant disappointment to the Orgreave Truth And Justice Campaign and its supporters and I have set out in a letter to them today the detailed reasons for my decision which include the following points,” she said.

“Despite the forceful accounts and arguments provided by the campaigners and former miners who were present that day, about the effect that these events have had on them, ultimately there were no deaths or wrongful convictions.

“The campaigners say that had the consequences of the events at Orgreave been addressed properly at the time, the tragic events at Hillsborough would never have happened five years later.

“That is not a conclusion which I believe can be reached with any certainty.

“The policing landscape has changed fundamentally since 1984 – at the political, legislative and operational levels. The same is true also for the wider criminal justice system.

“There would therefore be very few lessons for the policing system today to be learned from any review of the events and practices of three decades ago. This is a very important consideration when looking at the necessity for an inquiry or independent review and the public interest to be derived from holding one.

“Taking these considerations into account, I do not believe that establishing any kind of inquiry is required to allay public concerns or for any other reason.”

Responding to the statement, the former shadow home secretary Andy Burnham accused the Government of an “establishment stitch-up”.

Speaking during questions to the Home Office, the Leigh MP said: “Given that the IPCC found evidence of perjury and perversion of the course of justice, and given that in the last month new evidence has emerged from former police officers who were at Orgreave of orchestrated violence and the mass manufacture of police statements, are we right in concluding the establishment stitch-up that she has just announced today is nothing more than a nakedly political act?”.

Other MPs have described it as a “disgrace” and a “betrayal”, including the Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh and Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff.

Tweeting in response to the announcement, Ms Sherriff said she was “embarrassed and ashamed by Government”.

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn also took to Twitter to accuse ministers of “failing in [their] responsibility by ruling out an inquiry”.

While Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said he was “shocked and dismayed” by the decision.

“I am not convinced by the reasons given for refusing an investigation,” he said. “No one has ever suggested that the events of Orgreave were comparable in every respect to the disaster at Hillsborough.

“But the former miners and the former mining communities in South Yorkshire deserve an explanation as to what happened on that day and where Orgreave fits in the wider story of the miners’ strike.

“I believe the government has shied away from agreeing an enquiry because of those wider issues.”

Barbara Jackson, secretary of the Orgreave Triuth and Justice Campaign, said the decision is “deeply disappointing and absolutely unacceptable”. “It is nearly 32 years since 95 miners were arrested at Orgreave. Now, some of those miners are dead and the surviving ones face the prospect of several more years before we can get truth and justice,” she said.

“However we are determined people and the OTJC will continue to build wide support for a full, independent public inquiry. We will not give up.”