The home secretary Amber Rudd has today rejected calls for any kind of inquiry into violent policing at the Battle of Orgreave, in a move described as an “establishment stitch-up.”
Rudd ruled against both a statutory inquiry and an independent review into police brutality and the falsifying of statements during the biggest confrontation of the 1984 Miners Strike, when 6,000 officers were drafted in to contain miners picketing the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire.
In statement to the House of Commons, Rudd said there was no miscarriage of justice at Orgreave.
She said, “Despite the forceful accounts and arguments provided by the campaigners and former miners who were present that day, about the effect that these events have had on them, ultimately there were no deaths or wrongful convictions.
“I do not believe that establishing any kind of inquiry is required to allay public concerns or for any other reason.”
However MP Andy Burnham cited new evidence of “excessive violence on the day itself and mass manufacture of police statements.”
He said, “This establishment stitch-up is a purely political act.”
Campaigners for an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave say that recently released cabinet documents from the period point to collusion between the police, Tory ministers and the courts against the miners.
Unite organiser and chairperson of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, Joe Rollin, said he was “gutted” and “disgusted” by Rudd’s decision but vowed to carry on the fight.
He said, “We’ve got police officers admitting they were told to falsify evidence and video footage and photographic evidence of miners being beaten up. South Yorkshire police say they would welcome an inquiry, as does the police and crime commissioner and the Labour Party.
“The only people who don’t want an inquiry are the Tories and the reason they don’t want one is that their fingerprints are all over what happened at Orgreave. They’re up to their necks in guilt. This isn’t the end of it, what happened in June 1984 is too important to just let lie.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey argued that Amber Rudd’s “shameful refusal” to hold an inquiry into Orgreave “smacks of a continued cover-up by the establishment.
“It will be a bitter blow to those who seek the truth and justice, to those to whom her government gave false hope,” he said.
“The brutal actions of South Yorkshire police at Orgreave, the subsequent cover-up and the injustice to ordinary working men and women cannot go unanswered,” McCluskey added. “For this stain on the national history to be scrubbed away, the families deserve nothing less that the scrutiny eventually provided to the Hillsborough families.
“Amber Rudd had an opportunity to help to get answers, to back Labour’s commitment to an independent inquiry, instead she has betrayed the hopes of those whose lives have been scarred by Orgreave and slammed the door on the truth.
“The home secretary will learn the hard way that working class families do not give up on justice this easily,” McCluskey warned. “The fight for the truth will go on.”