'˜Gloves off' as Orgreave campaigners vow to continue fight

Campaigners for an inquiry into the so-called Battle of Orgreave have vowed to continue their fight following Home Secretary Amber Rudd's rejection of their plea, saying 'we regard the gloves as off'.

There were angry reactions to Ms Rudd’s decision to not hold any form of inquiry into the 1984 disturbances, at a press conference in Barnsley where miners, union officials and lawyers said they were considering pressing for judicial review.

Barbara Jackson, from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign vowed to continue her fight, telling supporters at the National Union of Mineworkers’ HQ: “We regard the gloves as off now on our side.”

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Mrs Jackson said she was “shocked and devastated” after Ms Rudd rang her personally to tell her of the decision on Monday.

She said the campaign had been positively received by the Home Office until earlier this year, when Lord Tebbit, who was a cabinet minister in 1984, “raised his head”.

Mrs Jackson said this intervention marked a change in tone from the Government.

She said: “”He went ranting and raving about the strike. He is stuck in in 1984; we’re not stuck in 1984.”

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She said: “I was absolutely shocked and devastated to find out that you were not going to be offered anything - not a panel hearing, not an apology, not offer to expunge the criminal records that miners collected during the strike, nothing at all.

“She said there were no deaths, so it doesn’t matter if you were seriously injured at Orgreave. So long as you didn’t die, that’s okay.”

But she said: “We’re still standing.”

Barrister Mark George QC also told the news conference he believed the Government’s apparent sympathy towards the campaign earlier this year was just “testing the water”.

He said the tide changed following the intervention of Lord Tebbit and others.

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Mr George, who is supporting the campaigners, said it was a nonsense to believe the South Yorkshire chief constable took decisions about Orgreave without reference to the Home Office, and said this was why Ms Rudd took her decision.

Earlier, the Home Office rejected suggestions that Ms Rudd made any commitment to campaigners to establish an inquiry.

On Tuesday, a Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Secretary met the campaign and their supporters on 13 September to hear their concerns in person.

“The Home Secretary has told the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) that she considered a range of options in reaching her decision, but at no point did she ever commit to establishing any form of inquiry.”