Maria Eagle MP Supports the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign
Today I joined supporters of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, including Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall, in their lobby of Parliament, ahead of their meeting with Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) wants a public inquiry into wrongdoing around the police's handling of events outside the Orgreave coking plant, during the miners’ strike in June 1984. Although pickets complained about the use of excessive force by the police, at the time it was 95 miners who were charged with the serious offences of either riot or violent disorder, but their trial collapsed when the police evidence was deemed unreliable.
Subsequently in 1991 South Yorkshire Police paid £425,000 in compensation to 39 miners for assault, wrongful arrest, unlawful detention and malicious prosecution. Yet there were no repercussions for those in high office who were responsible for what happened.
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 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.
Orgreave and the ‘fitted-up’ prosecutions did not happen by accident, this was an orchestrated attempt by senior police officers, and possibly others, to pervert the course of justice in a pattern of behaviour consistent with what happened in the aftermath of Hillsborough, involving the same police force led by many of the same leading figures.
That’s why I agree with Margaret Aspinall when she said today that if the truth about Orgreave had come out right away she doesn’t believe the injustice of the aftermath of Hillsborough would have happened the way it did.
If we are to learn all of the lessons of Hillsborough, and see justice done, then we need to know the truth about Orgreave. The government cannot pick and choose the path that justice must take.