Maira Eagle Calls for Orgreave Inquiry
On Monday and Tuesday In the House of Commons I and other Labour MPs questioned Home Secretary Amber Rudd and junior Minister Brandon Lewis on the shocking news that she has decided not to hold a Public Inquiry into events at Orgreave in 1984. Many MPs have been working with The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) and supported them in asking for such an Inquiry.
It was at Orgreave in 1984 that striking miners were brutally set upon by mounted police who thereafter charged 95 of them with riot – a charge carrying the possibility of a life sentence. Many were remanded in custody for months awaiting trial. The trial eventually collapsed because defence lawyers showed that the police evidence had been fabricated and officers had lied in court about what had happened. The Chief Constable and senior officers responsible for this were not held to account in any way for this shocking behaviour. Five years later, after the Hillsborough disaster, remarkably similar tactics were used by the South Yorkshire Police to try and blame the Liverpool fans for what had happened – a cover up now exposed for all to see.
In 1991 South Yorkshire Police were made to pay £425,000 in compensation to 39 of the miners for assault, wrongful arrest, unlawful detention and malicious prosecution. Yet there were still no repercussions for those responsible for what had been done.
In June 2015 an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) examination of allegations that officers colluded to write court statements concluded that the passage of time prevented a formal investigation of individual complaints, but leant support to calls for a full inquiry into the event after it found manipulation and concealment of evidence in both the criminal trial of the 95 arrested miners and the subsequent civil litigation.
The IPCC stated that there was evidence to suggest officers under the command of the South Yorkshire police assaulted miners and used excessive force, then committed perjury and perverted the course of justice in the prosecutions, which collapsed a year later because of the perjury and fabricated evidence presented by police.
Orgreave and the attempt to blame the violence caused by the police on the miners did not happen by accident. It was shocking to hear the Home Secretary assert that there had been no miscarriage of justice when men were remanded in custody for months charged with offences based on evidence which was totally fabricated by South Yorkshire Police. It is clear that a full inquiry is the only way to get at the truth of why this happened for all those affected by what took place in 1984.
I will now work with my Labour Colleagues, Unions and the The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign to continue the fight for an Inquiry.