Orgreave families: we want full, Hillsborough-style inquiry
People from former mining areas may never trust the police again unless the home secretary, Amber Rudd, announces a full Hillsborough-style investigation into allegations of police brutality at in 1984, one of those caught up in the violence has warned.
Writing in the Observer, how he was arrested on 18 June 1984, along with other men “bleeding from broken limbs, cracked skulls and [others] bandaging their own wounds with T-shirts”. Even after charges against him were dropped, Horne says the damage endured. “My family became infected with what I have called a disease – a distrust of the police that spans generations. But this week, the government has the opportunity to turn the page on these years.”
Rudd is expected to lay out her plans for an inquiry, to be led by a single judge, into one of the most notorious events in the miners’ strike, when about 6,000 police clashed with pickets in the South Yorkshire coalfield. A total of 95 miners were charged following the confrontation at the plant south of Rotherham. Evidence later emerged that South police deliberately fabricated evidence and exaggerated the cases against the pickets.
The so-called became a defining moment in the miners’ strike and in the arguments that raged between those in mining communities who were fighting for their livelihoods and .
Demands for a wide-ranging investigation have grown since officers in the same South Yorkshire force of the 1980s were left discredited earlier this year by the inquests into the people who died in , which followed a 27-year fight by the families for justice.
Now those seeking justice over Orgreave, who are backed by many Hillsborough campaigners, fear Rudd will merely announce a limited inquiry of the kind led by Lord Justice Stuart-Smith that was first established into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool fans a decade after the event. That inquiry failed to establish the truth about police behaviour and culpability and would be “completely unacceptable”, say the campaigners.
Horne says: “Former miners and our families fear that an inquiry sitting behind closed doors, led by a single establishment figure, will not get to the truth. If she chooses a scaled-down approach, the home secretary will make the same mistake that left the Hillsborough families fighting for an extra decade.”
Barbara Jackson, secretary of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, said that what was needed was a full investigation involving an independent panel of experts who could look at all the evidence, similar to that set up in 2012, following years of pressure into the Hillsborough disaster.
“We trust that Amber Rudd will announce the only right decision, namely that there must be an inquiry into what happened at Orgreave and after it. These events are too serious to let them lie. However, we have real concerns about what sort of inquiry the home secretary will establish: history is littered with examples of inquiries that have disappointed, such as the ‘establishment-led’ Stuart-Smith scrutiny into Hillsborough, which completely failed to get to the truth.
“We are keen to ensure that the home secretary does not make similar mistakes over Orgreave.”
Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said the fight for an appropriate inquiry would go on if Rudd announced a scaled-down investigation. “There are suggestions that the home secretary will offer the Orgreave campaigners a judicial inquiry similar to the one set up in 1998 into the disaster at Hillsborough. This, in our view, would be completely unacceptable as history shows in our case it only served to lengthen the cover-up.”
Former Labour cabinet minister Andy Burnham played a leading role in forging the 2012 Hillsborough investigation, setting in train events that led to the inquest verdicts of accidental death being overturned in favour of a judgment that the 96 Liverpool fans were He said: “I have nothing but praise for the way Theresa May handled Hillsborough, but all politicians must be prepared to go wherever the evidence trail takes us. After Hillsborough, that trail led very directly to Orgreave.
“The case for an inquiry is overwhelming and undeniable. In recent weeks, new evidence has emerged about excessive violence on the day itself and mass manufacture of police statements. Unless these allegations are properly investigated, it will damage trust in the government and the police.
“Theresa May came to office promising to heal divides and she must now show that those words have real meaning.”