Socialist Worker

Ex-miners demand to know - who was responsible for police attacks at Orgreave?

by Dave Gibson
Issue No. 2528

Police attack striking miners at Orgreave on 18 June 1984

Police attack striking miners at Orgreave on 18 June 1984 (Pic: John Sturrock)


About 100 people poured into the Yorkshire NUM Miners’ Hall in Barnsley today, Tuesday, for an Orgreave Truth and Justice (OTJC) press conference.

The mood was defiant and angry following yesterday’s snub from Tory home secretary Amber Rudd. Rudd has refused to allow an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave, where police attacked striking miners in June 1984.

National Union of Mineworkers secretary Chris Kitchen said, “The orders for what the police did at Orgreave came from the higher echelons of government. That’s what Amber Rudd is trying to cover up.”

He added, “Amber Rudd says no one died. But two miners did die picketing during the strike - because of the way picketing was policed in general.”

Mark George QC represented several families during the recent inquests into the deaths of Liverpool fans who died due to the Hillsborough disaster. He said, “When Amber Rudd says there was no miscarriage of justice, she must have a strange definition.

“The police tried hard to get 95 miners imprisoned. In their efforts to achieve that they held many of the 95 in prison, forced them all to endure a long trial and perjured themselves trying to fit up miners.”

Credible

He said the question of “who ordered Orgreave and everything that followed” needed to be answered. “It’s not credible to believe that chief constable Peter Wright did not seek approval from the home secretary before deciding on charges of riot and unlawful assembly,” he said.

“We need to know the communications that took place between Wright and the Home Office.”

Johnny Woods was a miner during the strike from Grimethorpe Colliery in Barnsley. He told Socialist Worker, “Orgreave was completely different to any other picket line. Instead of blocking us as they tried to do normally, the police helped us park and marched us to the field.

“The day started with a game of football. Then we were attacked by vast numbers of police with riot shields and on horses. They were determined to arrest people.

“I believe the Tories’ aim at Orgreave was not just the downfall of the miners, but to break the idea of solidarity in the working class.”

Paul Darlow, an ex-striking miner from Woolley Colliery in Barnsley added, “Orgreave was a police riot. Very scary. A group of us were chased into a housing estate and were lucky enough to be able to hide in a house - otherwise, we would have been arrested and on trial too.

“I want to know who in government was responsible for authorising police behaviour. We still want justice.


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