HOME SECRETARY Amber Rudd callously rejected calls yesterday for a public inquiry into the notorious police attack on miners at Orgreave during the strike against pit closures of 1984-5.
The decision, which Ms Rudd said was because ultimately “there were no fatalities,” was immediately condemned by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
NUM general secretary Chris Kitchen said: “What message does that send out to police officers? ‘You can do what you want, just don’t kill anybody and you will get away with it’.”
And the OTJC, which has been campaigning for a public inquiry into the police riot since 2012, said the decision was “absolutely unacceptable” and vowed to continue its campaign.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott criticised the “shameful decision, which ignores the need for truth and justice.”
The Battle of Orgreave became one of the most infamous incidents of the strike when around 8,000 striking miners were herded by police into a field near a coking plant at Orgreave, near Rotherham in South Yorkshire, on June 18 1984. The field was blocked on three sides.
Mounted police charged the lightly clad miners and were followed by a riot police assault on foot, leaving hundreds injured, many suffering head wounds.
Ninety-five miners were arrested and charged with rioting, an offence which carries a life sentence.
The charges were thrown out of court following revelations of police collusion while preparing statements, senior police dictating statements that officers should read out in court and outright lying.
Mr Kitchen said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by Ms Rudd’s decision.
“It shows the Tory Party doing what it does — protecting its own.”
“It is deplorable that one of the reasons she gave for not having a public inquiry is that there were no fatalities.
“But we will go on. We just have to regroup. We have been fighting for justice for 32 years. We will not stop,” he said.
OTJC supporters were in the Commons when Ms Rudd announced her decision.
The group underlined key questions that are still unanswered, including who ordered the brutal deployment of mounted police armed with truncheons and why the operational order for police deployments that day has disappeared, among other points.
The group said South Yorkshire Police’s culpability in the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at Sheffield’s Hillsborough football stadium in 1989, and the fabricating of evidence around the tragedy, were among other reasons for needing an inquiry into Orgreave.
OTJC secretary Barbara Jackson said: “This decision is deeply disappointing and absolutely unacceptable. It is nearly 32 years since 95 miners were arrested at Orgreave.
“Now, some of those miners are dead and the surviving ones face the prospect of several more years before we can get truth and justice. However we are determined people and the OTJC will continue to build wide support for a full, independent public inquiry.
“We will not give up.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey accused Ms Rudd of “shamelessly slamming the door on the truth” by refusing to order an inquiry into Orgreave.