Orgreave rejection reaction: Disgust, dismay and defiance

POLITICIANS, campaigners and civic leaders turned on Home Secretary Amber Rudd today after she ruled out holding an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave.

Ms Rudd this afternoon turned down appeals for a formal, independent probe into the confrontation outside the Orgreave Coking plant near Rotherham in 1984.

She said: “Despite the forceful accounts and arguments provided by the campaigners and former miners who were present that day, about the effect that these events have had on them, ultimately there were no deaths or wrongful convictions.

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“The campaigners say that had the consequences of the events at Orgreave been addressed properly at the time, the tragic events at Hillsborough would never have happened five years later.

“That is not a conclusion which I believe can be reached with any certainty.”

Campaign group Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) came out fighting, stating: “We don’t take no for an answer. Our fight for #orgreavejustice continues.”

The group will hold a press conference at Barnsley Miners Hall tomorrow.

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Rotherham MP Sarah Champion Tweeted after the announcement: “Can't believe Government won't have an inquiry into #Orgreave.

“Shows contempt Tories feel for South Yorkshire. I’m disgusted.”

Fellow South Yorkshire MPs John Healey and Kevin Barron said in a statement: “This shock decision by the Government not to go ahead with a statutory inquiry or an independent review into Orgreave is a betrayal of the families that have campaigned so long for justice.

“It is an early stain on Theresa May’s premiership and a shameful abdication of responsibility by the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd.

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“Former miners, their families and communities have waited decades for the truth, and they will be deeply disappointed by today's announcement.”

Rotherham Council leader Cllr Chris Read called it a “stunning decision,” which he called “a huge missed opportunity”.

Police and crime commissioner Dr Alan Billings said he was “shocked and dismayed” by the decision, saying the former miners and their families deserved to know the truth about what happened that day.

“The government have marched the Campaign for Truth and Justice to the top of the hill only to march them down again,

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“I am not convinced by the reasons given for refusing an investigation.

“No one has ever suggested that the events of Orgreave were comparable in every respect to the disaster at Hillsborough.

“But the former miners and the former mining communities in South Yorkshire deserve an explanation as to what happened on that day and where Orgreave fits in the wider story of the miners’ strike.

“I believe the government has shied away from agreeing an enquiry because of those wider issues.

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“South Yorkshire suffered at that time from industrial policies that saw the destruction of all our major industries – steel, heavy engineering and coal mining. We live with the consequences today.

“South Yorkshire Police were ready to co-operate in any enquiry.

“We had agreed to look at how the archives could be made available. Steps had already been taken to recruit a professional archivist to ensure all documents and other material would have been available to any enquiry.”

Ten months ago, the  OTJC campaign group — supported by high-profile campaigning lawyers — submitted their legal case for an independent probe to then-home secretary Theresa May.

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Campaigners wanted to see a Hillsborough panel-type inquiry with miners’ groups or OTJC members on the investigation group after the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said last year that it would not conduct an inquiry into police conduct at Orgreave.

The watchdog found evidence of assault and perjury by junior and senior officers, but announced that it had decided not to proceed with an inquiry over officers’ behaviour.

Miners from across Rotherham were picketing at Orgreave on June 18, 1984, when trouble flared, with police clashing with striking miners who had come from across Rotherham to protest outside the coking plant.

Police arrested 95 pickets and charged 71 with riot and 24 with violent disorder but their trials collapsed due to concern over the reliability of police evidence.

In 1991, 39 miners were paid  £425,000 in compensation for assault, wrongful arrest, unlawful detention and malicious prosecution.