Orgreave: Campaigners demand public inquiry after senior officers involved are linked to Hillsborough

Senior police officers and a soliticor linked to the collection of evidence at Hillsborough and Orgreave have been named

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 16 May 2016 21:07
Police officers clash with miners during a mass protest at Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham in 1984
Police officers clash with miners during a mass protest at Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham in 1984

The names of senior police officers and a solicitor who were involved in both the South Yorkshire Police response to the Hillsborough disaster and the so-called "Battle of Orgreave" have been revealed for the first time.

They were revealed by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, which renewed its call for Home Secretary Theresa May to order a full public inquiry into the incident.

Lawyer Peter Metcalf was involved in defending the force against unlawful arrest claims following the clash between miners and police during the strike in 1984.

He also reviewed statements after the football disaster in 1989, in which 96 people were crushed to death.

Deputy Chief Constable Peter Hayes and Assistant Chief Constable Walter Jackson were also involved in the aftermath of both incidents, with DCC Hayes ordering reviews into how evidence was collected.

The Orgreave campaign’s secretary, Barbara Jackson, said she believes the evidence of links between the investigation of both events and some of the individuals involved cannot be ignored.

She said: "A lot of people are digging around now and looking really seriously at this in a way that probably hasn't been done before.

Mounted policemen lined up at Orgreave coking plant in 1984

"We were not been able to talk about this until the end of the Hillsborough inquest but it was the same police, the same chief constable, the same senior police team and, now, the same solicitor".

At Orgreave, a coking plant near Rotherham in South Yorkshire, a mass picket of around 10,000 workers organised by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on 18 June 1984 was broken by a 5,000 strong police presence.

It follows a jury inquest reaching a ruling of "unlawful killing" in regards to the Hillsborough tragedy in April.

The jury found that police had failed to control the crowds at the stadium and Liverpool football fans were not to blame for the disaster.

The ruling, which followed the longest inquest in British legal history, also dismissed claims by police that fans had stolen from the victims and that none of them could have been saved after the 3:15pm cut off.

During the inquest, Sir John Goldring decided not to allow questioning over Orgreave because the said it would have opened a “Pandora’s box” and would divert the hearings into a much broader investigation into the conduct of South Yorkshire Police.

The police faced allegations of misconduct at Orgreave at the time after they took 95 miners to trial over their part in the disorder.

The trial collapsed after defence barristers alleged in court that police officers had fabricated evidence.

Floral tributes outside Hillsborough the morning after the disaster

In 2015, the Independent Police Complaints Commission released a redacted report saying there was “support” for the allegation that senior police had perjured themselves in court.

But it declined to launch a full investigation due the amount of time which had passed and inadequate resources.

Last month it said it was considering releasing the full, unredacted report to the public.

A spokesman told The Independent the matter was still under consideration.

He said the IPCC is currently consulting the Crown Prosecution Service about whether publication would interfere with ongoing criminal investigations into police conduct at Hillsborough.

In a statement on its website, it explained: “The report published on our website in June 2015 was redacted as a result of legal issues, including some relating to the Hillsborough inquests.

“An unredacted version of our report was shared with the Coroner to the Hillsborough inquests prior to publication.

“The inquests have now concluded and we are now considering whether the legal issues that prompted the report being redacted still remain.

A camera crew films a confrontation between a policeman and a miner

“One key consideration is that the IPCC and Operation Resolve are conducting criminal investigations into the events at Hillsborough and its aftermath."

Acting Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police 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.”

Both DCC Hayes and ACC Jackson denied any wrongdoing and Mr Metcalf declined to comment on the allegations when he was approached by the BBC.

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