COLUMN: We must fight for justice over Orgreave

MP rosie Winterton.
MP rosie Winterton.

Column by Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton

Every September for the past few years I have attended a commemoration service in Armthorpe to remember those miners who died at Markham Main Colliery.

MP Rosie Winterton.

MP Rosie Winterton.

Always a very moving event it gives an opportunity to reflect on how coal mining played an extremely important part of Doncaster’s history.

A real community spirit was forged amongst coal miners and their families though the industry was hazardous and difficult.

The closure of Hatfield Colliery ended almost a century of mining in Doncaster.

Mining heritage is at the heart of the town and surrounding villages but there remains an open wound still festering from over 30 years ago in relation to the miners’ strike in 1984.

I have signed an open letter to the home secretary supporting the demand for a full public inquiry to investigate the very serious allegations made in relation to what happened in June 1984 at Orgreave, when around 5, 000 police confronted pickets and then blamed them for instigating the violence.

A report published by the Independent Police Complaints’ Commission last year found that senior officers had made untrue statements.

There have been claims of violence, provocation, cover up and perverting the course of justice.

A public inquiry could examine how the police were used to occupy communities during the miners’ strike and how the Conservative Government of the day used a police force for its own political agenda.

People today are still swayed by what many people have said was impartial media coverage.

Recently released Cabinet papers show that striking miners and their communities were seen as the “enemy within.”

And although the trials of the miners collapsed, they have still not had the opportunity to clear their names.

In July the home secretary, Amber Rudd, said that she would be considering the facts in relation to Orgreave carefully over the summer.

Well the summer is now over. Earlier this month I joined former miners and their families before they went to meet the home secretary and press for justice and a public inquiry.

They were told that a decision would be made by the end of October. I hope that the home secretary listens to them and decides that a public inquiry is long overdue and is needed now to set the record set straight.

Many people in Doncaster have their own memories of their experiences during this period and their own tales to tell and it is time they were listened to.

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