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Rudd Orgreave inquiry plans ‘just speculation’

Home Office denies reports that announcement of probe is imminent

by Lamiat Sabin

THE Home Office refused yesterday to confirm reports that it will hold a long-awaited investigation into police attacks on striking miners at Orgreave in 1984.

It was a blow to campaigners whose hopes had been raised by a front-page report in the Times citing anonymous Whitehall sources that Home Secretary Amber Rudd will soon announce an inquiry.

Members of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) met Ms Rudd on Tuesday, saying it was “promising” after 32 years of calling for a formal investigation.

But a Home Office spokesman told the Star that the Times story was “speculation” and that Ms Rudd’s position has not changed since the meeting.

She is standing firm on the decision to announce by the end of October whether an inquiry will be held, he added.

Despite that, shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said it’s “clear that the government have listened to what the campaigners are saying” about the notorious police riot.

Mr Burham said: “The Home Secretary is to be congratulated for having the courage to continue the progress of shining a light on past injustice.

“We won’t fully restore public trust in the police until there is a true reckoning about the past.
“But it is disappointing that it has emerged through an anonymous briefing to a newspaper. If true, the Home Secretary must confirm it without delay.”

The violent confrontation occurred after the National Union of Mineworkers sent 5,000 pickets to the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire on June 18 1984, aiming to stop scab lorries getting into the site.

Around 6,000 police officers from across Britain were sent to keep the plant open, corralling the strikers into a field near the works before surrounding them and charging at them on horseback.
The BBC has been slammed for showing news footage out of sequence so it appeared that miners throwing stones at police to defend themselves had started the violence.

Ninety-five NUM members were charged with riot and serious public disorder before trials collapsed due to unreliable evidence.

Retired Manchester police officer Alex Thompson recently told Channel 4 News that local coppers from South Yorkshire Police — who five years later caused 96 deaths in the Hillsborough disaster — informed visiting officers that they’d write the statements for any arrests.

OTJC secretary Barbara Jackson welcomed news of an inquiry and said it is essential the group is consulted on the membership of any panel and its terms of reference.

Henrietta Hill QC helped prepare evidence submitted by OTJC to former home secretary Theresa May, who refused to make a decision on an inquiry before moving to Downing Street as PM.

Ms Hill said: “For any Orgreave inquiry to be effective, it must have full powers to ensure that all relevant evidence is obtained.

“It must have the ability to produce a report which provides a proper analysis of the evidence, as the Hillsborough Independent Panel did.”

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