Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Police referred over miners' strike

South Yorkshire Police has referred itself to the IPCC over its handling of proceedings at the Orgreave coking plant

The police force already under scrutiny over its role in the Hillsborough disaster has referred itself to the police watchdog over its part in the 1984 miners' strike.

South Yorkshire Police has voluntarily referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) following media reports about its handling of proceedings at the Orgreave coking plant.

A BBC documentary broadcast last month featured allegations that some police who were involved in prosecutions, following the infamous violence at the Rotherham plant in South Yorkshire, colluded when they wrote their statements.

A statement from South Yorkshire Police said: "Following reports in the media about the handling of proceedings during the Miners' Strike of 1984-85 and specifically after incidents at Orgreave, South Yorkshire Police voluntarily referred matters to the Independent Police Complaints Commission on Wednesday 14 November 2012.

"The force anticipates that, due to these matters being nearly 30 years old, the IPCC may take some time to consider fully whether any investigation is required and if so any terms of reference.

"South Yorkshire Police will, as always, co-operate fully with the IPCC. It would not be appropriate to comment further."

The BBC Inside Out programme investigated the events following the arrest of more than 90 people at Orgreave, which saw some of the most shocking and memorable scenes of the year-long dispute.

Those charged with riot were later cleared after doubts were raised about police evidence. The BBC said it obtained copies of around 100 police witness statements, which programme makers say show the extent to which officers used identical phrases to describe what they had seen.

The South Yorkshire force is already under intense scrutiny following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

The panel, which was chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, made a catalogue of alarming claims including the allegation that 164 police statements were altered in the wake of the tragedy, 116 of them to remove or change negative comments about policing of the match and ensuing disaster.