Socialist Worker

Campaigners slam Tories for ruling out Orgreave inquiry

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2527

Orgreave

The battle of Orgreave (Pic: John Sturrock)


There will be no inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave, home secretary Amber Rudd has announced. The decision is a slap in the face to former miners and others who have fought for justice for the past 32 years.

Joe Rollin is from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign. He told Socialist Worker, “We’re very angry but we're not surprised.

“Much of the establishment was calling for an inquiry - even South Yorkshire Police. And not just the usual suspects in Labour.

“The only ones who weren't were the Tories and we know why. Because they are up to their necks in guilt.”

Police attacked striking miners at the Orgreave coking plant in Sheffield on 18 June 1984. Then they framed 95 miners for riot.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has found evidence that officers committed perjury and assault. Several officers have come forward with evidence that police tampered with statements. They said they would give evidence to an inquiry.

But apparently Rudd thinks all of this isn't worth investigating.

Mark George is a barrister who represented some families during the recent inquests into the deaths of fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster.

He told Socialist Worker the news was “extremely disappointing”.

“Amber Rudd says there are very few lessons to be learned from Orgreave,” he said. “But this is about accountability.

“The system is putting elderly DJs through the courts for crimes alleged to have happened decades ago. Why is it different for police officers?”

There was anger in the House of Commons as the decision was announced.Labour MP Andy Burnham called it an “establishment stitch up”.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said, “We know that South Yorkshire Police lied about what happened at Hillsborough.

“At Orgreave they behaved in a similar way. Those involved need the same justice as the Hillsborough families.”

Ex miners and campaigners gathered outside parliament following the announcement. Former Derbyshire miner John Dunn told Socialist Worker, “This decision wasn’t unexpected. But there’s a lot of anger as they’ve led us a merry dance over the past four years.

Smug

“The smug arrogance she announced it with was unbelievable. But it changes nothing. We’ll fight on like we have fought for the last 32 years.”

Former miner Kevin told the media, “There’s no time limit for justice. The fight will go on.”

Campaigners said they had been “misled” by Rudd. They said Rudd had said at a recent meeting that she was going to decide on what “format” an inquiry would take, not rule one out.

Even Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said he was “shocked and dismayed” at the decision. “The government have marched the Campaign for Truth and Justice to the top of the hill only to march them down again,” he said.

John said the Tories are resisting an inquiry because of what it would uncover. “It would expose how the strike was micromanaged by Margaret Thatcher,” he said. “How the police turned into a military body. And the scale of the attacks on trade unionism.”

Mike Jackson from Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners told Socialist Worker the decision would “strengthen our resolve”. He added, “We’ve never had more evidence about Orgreave than we do now.”

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) has not received the six-page letter Rudd claimed in parliament to have sent them. But campaigners are clear the fight will continue regardless.

Chris Peace from the OTJC there were “key questions” that needed to be answered.

She asked, “Who ordered the brutal deployment of mounted police, armed with truncheons, and other police units, some with dogs, against striking miners?

“Who decided to charge arrested miners with riot which carried heavy prison sentences? Why has the police’s operational order for that day disappeared?”

Chris told Socialist Worker, “I was really taken aback to hear Amber Rudd say there has been no miscarriage of justice. The trial of miners for riot fell apart because the police evidence wasn’t reliable.

“The IPCC has found evidence of perjury. How is this not a miscarriage of justice?”

 


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