Battle of Orgreave: Home Secretary Amber Rudd rules out inquiry

Labour said the decision was a 'grave injustice'

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Monday 31 October 2016 15:24
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Orgreave: Home Secretary will not launch inquiry

The Government has ruled out setting up a statutory inquiry or independent review into the notorious clash between police and miners at Orgreave in 1984, with campaigners branding the decision a "grave injustice".

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in a written statement released on Monday that there would "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 so-called Battle of Orgreave saw striking miners clash with riot police outside a coking plant in Yorkshire. New evidence emerged this year from police officers who were at the confrontation, while the Independent Police Complaints Commission said last year there was "evidence of excessive violence by police officers, a false narrative from police exaggerating violence by miners, perjury by officers giving evidence to prosecute the arrested men, and an apparent coverup of that perjury by senior officers".

Campaigners say South Yorkshire Police colluded to manufacture statements which claimed miners were responsible for the violence, and that police took an extreme and violent approach.

A delegation of former miners met the Home Secretary last month to discuss the issue. It was reported that the Government was considering an inquiry; the IPCC has itself decided not to launch an investigation.

Ms Rudd's statement said: "Over 30 years later, policing is very different and one of my key concerns as Home Secretary is to ensure there is a policing system which works effectively and fairly now. The policing landscape has changed fundamentally since 1984 – at the political, legislative and operational levels. The same is true also for the wider criminal justice system.

"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. This is a very important consideration when looking at the necessity for an inquiry or independent review and the public interest to be derived from holding one.

"Taking these considerations into account, I do not believe that establishing any kind of inquiry is required to allay public concerns or for any other reason.

Mounted policemen lined up at Orgreave coking plant

"I believe that we should focus on continuing to ensure that the policing system is the best it can be for the future, including through reforms before Parliament in the Policing and Crime Bill, so that we can have the best possible policing both in South Yorkshire and across the country."

A number of Labour MPs criticised the decision. Labour's national campaign coordinator Jon Trickett said: "I represent many men who were at Orgreave. Justice hidden is justice denied. Labour will set up an Inquiry as soon as elected to office."

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott described the decision as a "grave injustice".

“We know the South Yorkshire Police lied about what happened at Hillsborough yet only five years earlier the same South Yorkshire Police, many of the same commanders, behaved in a very similar way at Orgreave.

“The Orgreave families and campaigners need the same justice the Hillsborough families had and the same type of independent inquiry to establish the truth.”

Ms Rudd said the "easier political decision would have been to agree to an inquiry".

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