Backing for Orgreave inquiry demands
CAMPAIGNERS and MPs made fresh demands this week for a public inquiry over the Battle of Orgreave in the wake of the Hillsborough inquests.
The outcome of the two-year hearing into the 1989 football stadium disaster — which concluded that the 96 victims were unlawfully killed and not to blame — sparked renewed calls for further scrutiny of police actions surrounding the coking plant face-off five years earlier.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is also under pressure to release a complete copy of a partially-redacted report on the 1984 confrontations and subsequent claims of a cover-up, which it issued last summer.
The IPCC said at the time that it had decided not to push for a full investigation as it would “not be in the public interest” to purse claims that police used excessive force and gave false evidence.
But the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign — which formally challenged that decision — this week said that “urgent priority needs to be given to the Home Secretary reaching a decision on the public inquiry”.
OTJC chairman Joe Rollin said: “Orgreave remains an essential part of the background to Hillsborough and it is imperative that it is fully investigated if trust in the police is to be rebuilt.
“We are now waiting to meet the Home Secretary for the second time and urge her to decide that there must be a full inquiry into Orgreave.
“We also call on the IPCC to disclose an unredacted copy of its report so the public can understand the full scale of its findings.”
The campaign for a new investigation was given fresh impetus by MP Andy Burnham’s statement about Hillsborough to the House of Commons last Wednesday. He said: “I promised the families the full truth about Hillsborough. I don’t believe we will have that until we have the full truth about Orgreave.”
Referring to the redacted IPCC report, he added: “This is a time for transparency not secrecy.”
Mrs May was sent the OTJC’s evidence for a public inquiry in mid-December and a response was expected by March.
She told the Commons last week the submission was “being considered”.
Rother Valley MP and ex-miner Kevin Barron said: “In 1985, I called for a national inquiry into the policing throughout the miners’ strike and I reiterate that call today.”
The Battle of Orgreave saw 95 miners charged with offences including riot and unlawful assembly after clashes with police outside the British Steel coking plant, in which 50 people were injured.
The cases were all thrown out after police evidence was deemed unreliable and 39 cleared miners were awarded compensation and costs totalling £525,000 in 1991.
The IPCC said it was looking at whether legal issues which caused the redaction of parts of its report — some relating to Hillsborough — still remained, with two criminal investigations into events in 1989 still going on.
South Yorkshire’s Interim Chief Constable, Dave Jones, said: “The Hillsborough inquests have brought into sharp focus the need to understand and confront the past and give people the opportunity to explore the circumstances of such significant events.
“I would therefore welcome an appropriate independent assessment of Orgreave accepting that the way in which this is delivered is a matter for the Home Secretary.”
q In tomorrow’s Rotherham Advertiser: New top cop to hold review of troubled force, South Yorkshire Police branded a “pantomime” and Commissioner’s dismissal of “cold, damp police stations”.
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