Orgeave needs Hillsborough style inquiry

THE Government should force a swift inquiry into the battle of Orgreave if the IPCC does not urgently publish its findings, Labour has said.

Miners Strike 1984 Orgreave Coking Plant Foot police charge pickets - 31st May 1984
Miners Strike 1984 Orgreave Coking Plant Foot police charge pickets - 31st May 1984

Labour has hit out at delays in the police watchdog’s looking at how South Yorkshire Police handled striking miners at the Orgreave Coking works in May and June 1984.

A report has still not being published, with the IPCC saying it has assessed more than 20,000 documents, including 20 boxes of material from the South Yorkshire Archive relating to claims police attacked miners at Orgreave.

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Shadow cabinet office minister Michael Dugher called for a greater sense of urgency during a Labour debate on how coalfield areas have coped since the demise of the mining industry.

“Orgreave was not just a black day for Yorkshire it was a black day for this country,” the Barnsely MP said. He added: “The Government should consider a swift independent review on Orgreave if the IPCC cannot get its act together”

Commenting on the release of state papers earlier this year showing how the then Conservative Government considered using troops to deal with a strike, Mr Dugher told Commons it was “disgraceful that Margaret Thatcher considered using armed forces to break miners’ strikes.”

Mr Dugher said that after the release of the cabinet papers more had to be done to reveal the full extent of secret pit closure talks, saying that “just like Savile and Hillsborough we must face up to the past and know what happened.”

He added: “I lived by a pit that members of my own family helped to sink more than 100 years ago. I proudly marched with miners when they went back to work in 1985, I saw the impact the strike had and that sense of injustice endures today as a result of the failure to hold people to account. We can’t undo the damage that was done,but we can shine a light on this.”

Energy minister Matthew Hancock said that “given the political considerations of those involved“ in the dispute it was right that “all options were considered” in relation to troops being used to break strikes.

He added: “Orgreave is now home to Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Centre, and the support there between business and university is the sort of partnership which could have been the way we approached this difficult transition for the country 30 years ago but it was turned down by the political dealings of Arthur Scargill .”