The Home Office must issue a independent public inquiry into Orgreave, says KATE FLANNERY
THE manner and scale of pit closures in the 1980s and ’90s combined with the implementation of deindustrialisation, anti-trade union laws, mass unemployment, casualisation and welfare reforms feeds into the motivation for the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) to seek justice for the miners and their communities.
A key aim of the OTJC is to obtain a full and independent public inquiry into the pre-planned militarised nature of police tactics, police brutality against miners, wrongful arrests and blatant corruption and perjury connected with the events that occurred at the picketing of the Orgreave plant on June 18 1984.
The sense of injustice felt by miners and communities due to the incredibly serious and unprecedented nature of what happened at Orgreave is palpable.
Yet despite the Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s shocking decision in October 2016 not to allow a public inquiry, the OTJC is going from strength to strength.
With mounting solidarity from the labour and trade union movement, since November 2012, the campaign has held a series of highly successful social and political events, media campaigns, meetings and rallies and has amassed a vast amount of interest and support from the public, politicians and supporters in France, Norway, Denmark and Ireland.
We are also exploring our legal options.
After an extremely successful demonstration outside the Home Office on March 13 — amid attempts by the government to make it as difficult as possible to access recently released Home Office files about Orgreave and the miners’ strike — campaigners are far from despondent.
The parliamentary home affairs select committee has helped by requesting Home Office files to be released, South Yorkshire Police have employed an archivist to gather relevant evidence and information and many local councils, trade unions and political organisations have passed resolutions supporting the campaign and written directly to the Home Secretary urging her to commission an inquiry.
A National Union of Journalists (NUJ) resolution at this weekend’s Yorkshire and the Humber TUC calling on delegates to commend and support the continuing work of the OTJC, highlights that the government made no attempt to examine Independent Police Complaints Commission or South Yorkshire Police evidence when making a decision that no inquiry would take place.
The Tories’ attempts to cover up the facts during and after the strike and prevent an inquiry suggests there must be more revelations to come.
The deliberate construction of a false narrative in police officers’ evidence and the conscious promotion of it through the media, the lack of legal accountability for what happened and the ongoing consequences, Hillsborough and Pitchford and new sources of evidence are all reasons why it is in the public interest and an absolute imperative that the Home Secretary commissions an independent public inquiry about Orgreave.
It represents one of the gravest miscarriages of justice in our country’s history and the key issues seen at Orgreave are still relevant today.
An inquiry must be transparent, open and accessible, have powers to require relevant information and evidence to be produced to it, allow those who have an interest in the inquiry to fully participate and ensure that inquiry investigators have a range of relevant skills and experience. Without a full independent inquiry it will not be possible to achieve the truth and justice we all deserve.
The OTJC is calling on people and organisations to support the campaign for an inquiry and to write directly to the Home Secretary.
Kate Flannery is a campaigner with the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign. For more on the OTJC, visit otjc.org.uk. The OTJC has a template letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd available at mstar.link/OTJCLetter. Send them to Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF.