Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Both Local and National Importance

With my emphasis added, Katie Dickinson writes:

Durham County Council has joined calls for a public inquiry into the police operation at Orgreave during the miners’ strike.

Last week saw reports that home secretary Amber Rudd was set to approve an investigation into the violent clashes between thousands of officers and pickets at the South Yorkshire coking plant in June 1984.

Now the county council has unanimously passed a resolution, with support from members of all political parties, recognising the events of that day as “of both local and national importance”. 

Councillors have asked for a review of what happened, and requested that the government holds meaningful discussions with the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, the National Union of Mineworkers and concerned MPs. 

During the confrontation 95 miners including four from the Durham coalfield faced trumped up charges including riot which has a maximum life sentence. 

All the charges were later dropped after allegations of police fabricating evidence and 39 miners received compensation. 

Coun Joy Allen, the council’s cabinet member for safer communities, said: 

“In Durham, miners and their families were adversely affected by the events of 18 June 1984, in terms of wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, ill-health, family breakdown and lost jobs. 

“An investigation into the military style policing used on that day is long overdue and only a full public inquiry can investigate this.” 

Coun Rob Crute, who proposed the resolution, said:

“Perhaps the most disturbing outcome of that day’s events was the effect it had on the manner of policing at subsequent events.

“Without effective controls some police clearly came to believe that they could act with impunity.

“The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign was set up to lead calls for a public inquiry into the events that took place, including methods used by South Yorkshire police during and after the event which included wrongful arrest, false imprisonment and false prosecution.

“Surely the time is now right to show solidarity with the OTJC and join calls for a public inquiry into the policing tactics used at Orgreave.

“Perhaps this could be similar in structure to the independent panel established to investigate the tragic events at Hillsborough.” 

The operation during the year long miners’ strike was led by South Yorkshire police.

Five years later the same force was subsequently shown to have used similar tactics to blame Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 supporters died.

The Home Office has not confirmed that a decision has been made, and says there will be an announcement before the end of October.

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