Government rules out inquiry into policing at Battle of Orgreave

The Battle of Orgreave.
The Battle of Orgreave.

The government has refused to hold an inquiry into the infamous Battle of Orgreave during the miners’ strike of 1984-5.

There will be no statutory inquiry or independent review despite a campaign for police tactics during a mass picket at a coking plant near Rotherham to be investigated.

Thousands of miners and police clashed on June 18, 1984, in a pivotal moment in the year-long strike against pit closures.

Ninety-five miners were prosecuted for riot and unlawful assembly, but the their trial collapsed and there were allegations that officers colluded to write statements.

In a statement Ms Rudd 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.

“There have been very significant changes in the oversight of policing since 1984, at every level, including major reforms to criminal procedure, changes to public order policing and practice, stronger external scrutiny and greater local accountability.

“There would therefore be very few lessons for the policing system today to be learned from any review of the events and practices of three decades ago.”

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) vowed to continue fighting for an inquiry after today’s announcement.

Campaign secretary Barbara Jackson said: “This decision is deeply disappointing and absolutely unacceptable. It is nearly 32 years since 95 miners were arrested at Orgreave.

“Now, some of those miners are dead and the surviving ones face the prospect of several more years before we can get truth and justice.

“However we are determined people and the OTJC will continue to build wide support for a full, independent public inquiry. We will not give up.”

In 2012 South Yorkshire Police referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over allegations of assault and misconduct by officers at Orgreave.

A redacted version of the IPCC’s report was released last year.

Action groups said there were links between police tactics and attitude at Orgreave and the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster.

Calls for an Orgreave inquiry were backed by the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings.

After today’s announcement Dr Billings said: “The former miners and their families deserved to know the truth about what happened that day.

“I am therefore shocked and dismayed by this decision. The government have marched the Campaign for Truth and Justice to the top of the hill only to march them down again.

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

Hemsworth MP John Trickett said on Twitter: “Disgraceful decision by this Tory government, refusing inquiry into Orgreave. We will not rest until justice is done.”