Bid for miners’ strike inquiry will continue

Arthur Scargill, president of the National Miners Union, at Orgreave
Arthur Scargill, president of the National Miners Union, at Orgreave

Campaigners are calling for a Hillsborough-style inquiry into police actions during the 1984 miners’ strike.

The police watchdog announced this week it would not investigate alleged misconduct by officers during a rally at Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire.

This decision arrived more than two years after the force referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over the events dubbed as the Battle of Orgreave.

Members of the National Union of Miners from St Helens borough attended the 1984 action at the cokeworks near Rotherham, where violent scenes resulted in 93 arrests.

South Yorkshire Police – which is already under intense scrutiny over its role in the Hillsborough disaster – faced claims that officers used “excessive force” against picketing miners, manipulated statements and gave false evidence in court.

But following a two-year analysis of thousands of pages of documents, the IPCC said it had decided not to launch an investigation, prompting one campaign group to brand the watchdog “not fit for purpose”.

IPCC deputy chair Sarah Green said: “Allegations of offences amounting to minor assaults could not be prosecuted due to the passage of time; and as many of the police officers involved in events at Orgreave are retired, no disciplinary action could be pursued.”

Mark Metcalf, spokesman for the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, said: “The fact the IPCC is stepping aside will not deter the OTJC from continuing its campaign.”

“Only a Hillsborough-style public inquiry can eventually get to the truth.”