Decision expected over inquiry into Battle of Orgreave

An announcement is expected to be made today on whether the Government will order an inquiry into a notorious clash between police and miners in South Yorkshire.

Monday, 31st October 2016, 6:03 am
Updated Monday, 31st October 2016, 8:40 am

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is understood to have told campaigners at a recent meeting that she would decide by the end of the month whether to launch a probe into the conduct of South Yorkshire Police during the 'Battle of Orgreave' in 1984.

The 'battle' became one of the most infamous showdowns between pickets and police during the national miners' strike.

It is alleged by campaigners that police action on the day was heavy handed and statements were manufactured to discredit those involved.

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Momentum for an Orgreave inquiry has escalated since the conclusion of the Hillsborough inquests earlier this year.

Barbara Jackson, secretary of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, said: "We trust that Amber Rudd will announce the only right decision, namely that there must be an inquiry into what happened at Orgreave and after it. These events are too serious to let them lie.

"However we have real concerns about what sort of inquiry the Home Secretary will establish. History is littered with examples of inquiries that have disappointed, such as the 'establishment-led' Stuart-Smith Scrutiny into Hillsborough, which completely failed to get to the truth, and we are keen to ensure that the Home Secretary does not make similar mistakes over Orgreave".

A review in 1998 into the Hillsborough disaster carried out by Lord Justice Stuart-Smith concluded new inquests were not warranted.

The relatives of those who died in the footballing tragedy said electing a single judge again to review such a case behind closed doors would be inadequate.

Margaret Aspinall, chairmanof the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: "A judicial security approach would be completely unacceptable as history shows in our case that it only served to lengthen the cover-up."

Labour MP Andy Burnham, who championed both the causes of the Hillsborough families and the miners of Orgreave, said: "There are rumours that the Government is about to offer a narrow judicial scrutiny along the same lines as that which was offered to the Hillsborough families in 1998.

"If this is true, I will make it clear to the Home Secretary in the Commons on Monday that this is unacceptable. In the case of Hillsborough, it only served to lengthen the cover-up by a further decade. If the Government is looking at a broader inquiry, it is essential that the Orgreave campaign are consulted about the membership of the panel and its terms of reference."