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Orgreave campaigners welcome 'go-ahead for policing inquiry'

Published 15/09/2016

MPs and campaigners attend a rally for the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign outside Parliament
MPs and campaigners attend a rally for the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign outside Parliament

Campaigners calling for an inquiry into the policing of the so-called Battle of Orgreave say they are encouraged by reports that Home Secretary Amber Rudd has given the probe the green light.

Ms Rudd is set to approve an official inquiry into events at the best-known clash between pickets and police in the 1984 miners' strike, according to The Times.

She is set to appoint a lawyer next month to assess material relating to the violent clashes outside the Orgreave coking plant, between Rotherham and Sheffield.

A source told the paper the Home Secretary wants to push ahead with an investigation that delivers answers that are "complete" but does not want "something that could drag on for years".

Calls for an official investigation into Orgreave have gained momentum since the conclusion of the two-year Hillsborough inquests.

Campaigners say some of the thousands of officers drafted in to police the picketing used excessive violence and this was followed by the fabrication of accounts during the subsequent investigation.

Concerns have surrounded apparent similarities between South Yorkshire Police's actions after Orgreave and the Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield five years later.

Earlier this week a delegation from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) met Ms Rudd to press the case for an inquiry and met sympathetic politicians at Westminster, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, who has been one of the loudest voices calling for an inquiry, welcomed the reported decision.

He tweeted: "Front page of tomorrow's Times makes encouraging reading for @orgreavejustice. But fight will go on until confirmed."

Rotherham's Labour MP Sarah Champion posted: "Looking increasingly hopeful for an Orgreave inquiry. Well done @orgreavejustice for your campaigning."

TV footage and newspaper photographs of the events of June 18 1984 at Orgreave have becoming the defining images of the year-long strike.

Thousands of miners massed outside the plant, which is now a housing estate, and were confronted by around 6,000 police pulled from forces all around the UK.

There were dozens of arrests and injuries but, when 95 miners were prosecuted, their trials collapsed due to concerns over police evidence.

South Yorkshire Police referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in 2012 over allegations that officers colluded to write court statements.

The watchdog later said the passage of time prevented a formal investigation, but there was "support" for the allegation that senior police exaggerated pickets' use of violence.

Following that decision, the IPCC decided not to publish its full, unredacted report into Orgreave because it may have interfered with the still ongoing investigation into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Earlier this year, the Yorkshire Post said it had seen redacted sections of the report revealing that the same senior officers and solicitor were involved in the aftermath of Orgreave and the Hillsborough disaster.

Former policeman Mike Freeman has told how officers were ordered to write statements for arrests they had not made, while veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner said he saw dogs and horses being set on picketers.

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