Lesbians & Gays Support The Miners

Below is a letter of support for the call for a public inquiry into the events at Orgreave in June 1984 from Lesbians & Gays Support The Miners (2014).

 

22 July 2015

Dear Home Secretary,

CALL FOR A PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO POLICING AT ORGREAVE – JUNE 1984

Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners 2014 is a group of lesbian and gay activists that were involved in raising funds and support for the striking miners in 1984/85. Our story is told in the film “Pride”, released in September 2014 and we reformed last year primarily to respond to media and community requests for information on our work. However, this work has led us into a range of present day causes and campaigns and hence, my purpose in writing.

We support the call for a full public inquiry into the actions of the police at the Orgreave coking plant on 18th June 1984 during the miners’ strike of 1984-85.

With others who support this call, we have waited for nearly two and a half years for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to complete their “scoping” exercise on whether to investigate the actions of the police on that day.

We were disappointed by the IPCC announcement on 12th July 2015 that despite there being evidence of police officers using excessive force, manipulating evidence and lying in court, there would be no investigation into the events of 18th June 1984.

The IPCC report concedes that “the unwillingness to disclose evidence of wrongdoing by officers does raise doubts about the ethical standards of officers in the highest ranks of the South Yorkshire Police at the time”. That, in itself, should constitute sufficient grounds for investigation. Instead they have decided that no investigation will take place, due to the passage of time and the fact that there have been no miscarriages of justice in the form of wrongful convictions. This is entirely unacceptable.

We believe that this issue is of national significance. A full investigation into the military style policing used on that day is now long overdue and only a full public inquiry can properly put this matter to rest. Our members have been on multiple peaceful marches, demonstrations, parades and public events over the last four decades. In a mature democracy such as ours, the compact between the public and police at events of this sort relies on mutual trust and respect and a commitment on both sides to remain within the law. The policing of the Orgreave event in 1984 was a gross breach of this compact and damages the reputation of the police and any Government that gave sanction to this.

Only a full public inquiry into the events at Orgreave in 1984 can right the wrong and properly restore the relationship between the wider public, the police and Government today.

We therefore call on you, in your role as Home Secretary, to order a full public inquiry into the deployment and actions of the police on 18th June 1984.

Yours Sincerely,

David Lewis
Press Secretary

LGSM2014

LGSM Letter to Theresa May 220715 V3

We were fed lies about the violence at Orgreave. Now we need the truth

Battle of Orgreave
Miners and police clash, in what became known as the Battle of Orgreave in 1984. Photograph: Don McPhee for the Guardian

May, who has said she will consider their request for a public inquiry, is said to have been sympathetic to the former miners Arthur Critchlow and Kevin Horne, who described Orgreave’s crushing impact on them and their communities.

On that day in 1984, 8,000 miners who went to picket lorry drivers supplying coke to the steel industry were met by 6,000 police officers drawn from all over the country, commanded by South Yorkshire police. The force included 42 officers on horseback and the first units with short shields and truncheons ever used in Britain. Their official purpose, stated in the police’s tactical manual, was to “incapacitate” demonstrators.The news footage beamed into the nation’s homes that night is itself central to the continuing dispute. The BBC showed miners throwing stones and other missiles at the police, followed by mounted officers charging into them, and then officers chasing miners, some clearly being hit over the head with truncheons.

The miners always said the police had brutally attacked them without justifiable provocation, and that the attack felt preplanned. They complained that the BBC had reversed footage, to show miners who threw missiles seemingly before the police charge rather than in retaliation for it. That night the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was determined to defeat the strike, and with it the power of the National Union of Mineworkers, made it clear she believed in the police. This was, she famously said, “mob rule” by the miners.

Far less publicised, a year later, was the unravelling of the police case. Officers had arrested and charged 95 miners with riot, an offence of collective violence carrying a potential life sentence. Yet in July 1985 the prosecution withdrew and all the miners were were acquitted after the evidence of some police officers, including those in command, had been discredited under cross-examination.

In 1991 South Yorkshire police paid £425,000 compensation to 39 miners who had sued the force for assault, unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution. But still the police did not admit any fault, and not a single police officer was ever disciplined or prosecuted.

In 2012, after reporting by the Guardian and a BBC documentary that showed that dozens of police officers’ statements had identical opening paragraphs setting out the scene of a riot, South Yorkshire police referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for possible misconduct.The IPCC took two and a half years to read the available paperwork – which did not include any documents relating to the planning of the operation, as South Yorkshire police said they had not found any. Owing to the passage of time, the IPCC decided it would not mount a formal investigation. But in its report, finally published last month, the IPCC found “support for the allegation” that three senior police officers in command at Orgreave had “made up an untrue account exaggerating the degree of violence (in particular missile throwing)” from miners to justify their use of force and the charges of riot. The report said one of these most senior officers had his statement typed and witnessed by another officer who led a team of detectives which, the IPCC said, dictated those identical opening paragraphs of junior officers’ statements.The report says the BBC had indeed reversed footage in its news broadcast that night, an accusation the BBC has never officially accepted.

Explosively, the IPCC revealed for the first time that South Yorkshire police, when contemplating the civil claims, recognised there had been some excessive violence by officers and perjury in the trial that followed, but covered it up. The force settled the claims, the IPCC stated, “very much prompted” by senior officers’ knowledge of this misconduct.

Three decades on, former miners and their supporters in the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign believe they have been vindicated, but feel frustrated by the IPCC’s decision not to formally investigate. The call for a public inquiry, or a Hillsborough-style disclosure of all police documents to an independent panel, is backed by dozens of Labour MPs, including party the leadership frontrunners Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper.

May faces a difficult decision, of course, in confronting the established police narrative, which many in her own party still believe. But the campaign has already found her more receptive than might have been assumed of a Conservative home secretary. In her support for several new inquiries, the new Hillsborough inquests and criminal investigations, and a starkly challenging speech last year to the Police Federation, May has consistently been intolerant of police malpractice.

And there are wider reasons for her to set up a public inquiry or an independent panel to review the evidence. Police in many mining communities remain widely and deeply distrusted, which the acknowledgement of lingering injustice could help to reconcile, locally and nationally. More broadly, Orgreave was a landmark event in British history, pivotal not only to the ultimate defeat of the miners’ strike, but to the closure of the mines and other major industries that followed, and it is important the nation knows the truth.

Most basically, the police, who have the vital and difficult job of upholding the law, stand accused of grave criminal acts, and it is hard to justify their being tolerated just because time has passed. If May rejects an inquiry, she risks in effect sanctioning the years of lies, and sending the message she has set her tenure against: that cover-ups do work, if the lid can be kept on them for long enough.

Miners’ solicitor turned AM Mick Antoniw will meet Theresa May to push for full public inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave

This story by David Williamson originally appeared on Walesonline.co.uk

Pressure for an inquiry is growing after the IPCC decided not to investigate the notorious clash between miners and officers

Mick Antoniw will meet Theresa May to push for an inquiry into the events at Orgreave

 

An Assembly Member who represented people caught up in one of the most controversial events in the miners’ strike will next week meet with Home Secretary Theresa May as part of the push for a full public inquiry into the so-called Battle of Orgreave.

Campaigners were disappointed last month when the Independent Police Complaints Commission announced it would not hold a formal investigation into the clash between around 10,000 strikers and 5,000 officers at the Orgreave coking plant in June 1984.

Together with members of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw – who practised as a solicitor before entering full-time politics – will join a delegation on Tuesday led by Labour MP Louise Haigh to push the Home Secretary for a full inquiry.

Labour’s Mick Antoniw was a solicitor for miners caught up in the battle of Orgreave during the miners’ strike. He has now amassed cross-party support to blast the IPCC’s decision not to investigate the brutality of the day and is lobbying the Home Secretary

‘Serious injustice’

Describing the significance of the meeting, Mr Antoniw said: “This is an important development because it is an opportunity to put the case directly to the Home Secretary about the serious injustice that occurred at what became known as the battle of Orgreave.

Related opinion: How the year-long miners’ strike shattered an entire industry

“While many of the issues raised have been conceded by the IPCC, including evidence of perjury, it does not have the capacity to carry out a full enquiry and has referred the matter to the UK Government.

“We will be pressing for a full public enquiry on behalf of all the victims.”

Officers retired

South Yorkshire Police had referred itself to the IPCC after a BBC documentary suggested officers may have colluded in writing their court statements.

More on this story: The Battle of Orgreave has spurred a battle for truth

The IPCC argued that because arrested miners were “acquitted or no evidence offered” there were “no miscarriages of justice due to alleged police failures”.

It also stated that minor assaults could not be prosecuted “due to the passage of time” and disciplinary action could not be pursued against retired officers.

File photo dated 29/05/1984 of police officers move into the picket lines at the Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham

Police officers move into the picket lines at the Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham

‘Serious concerns’

Mrs May states in a letter to Mr Antoniw: “Serious concerns were raised about incidents that took place at Orgreave and it was right that the IPCC reviewed these matters.

“I recognise the significance of these incidents for members of the mining communities in England and Wales and their families who were affected by the events that day at Orgreave – and which continue to resonate in these communities.

“I hope that the publication of the IPCC’s report will provide evidence to them of the breadth and thoroughness of its work in this matter.”

‘Thousands of pages’

She continues: “As you will be aware, the IPCC’s review has been a complex exercise with an in-depth analysis undertaken of a vast amount of documentation from over 30 years ago.

“In the course of the review the IPCC examined thousands of pages of papers, film, and photographic material which were gathered together and analysed for the first time.

“On the basis of this extensive review the IPCC sought to determine what matters still remain that may require investigation, whether those matters are indeed capable of investigation, and considered the resources that would be required for it to an initiate an investigation.

“The IPCC published its rationale for deciding not to do so on Friday, June 12.

Anti-riot squad police watching picketers against a background of burning cars

MP’s Pressure

“The decision not to take further action was a matter for the IPCC alone to make on the balance of the evidence it assessed during the scoping review.”

Mrs May said that 62 Labour MPs have also requested a meeting with her to discuss an inquiry.

Related: Miners’ strike has been ‘falsely mythologised’ says right-wing historian

She states that she is “currently considering the IPCC’s report of its scoping review into the events at the Orgeave coking plant in June 1984, and will set out the Government’s position in due course”.

 

Cross-party support

The Home Secretary has asked Mr Antoniw to join the meeting to represent the Assembly Members who have also backed his call for an inquiry.

These are Labour AMs Christine Chapman, Jeff Cuthbert, Keith Davies, John Griffiths, Mike Hedges, David Rees and Gwenda Thomas, Lib Dem AM Peter Black, and Plaid Cymru AMs Jocelyn Davies, Bethan Jenkins, Alun Ffred Jones, Simon Thomas, Rhodri Glyn Thomas and Lindsay Whittle.

Hands off our Headgear

Following the shocking government inspired premature closure of Hatfield Main Colliery, things have moved at indecent haste to sack the miners, and fill the shafts. We are very concerned that the next step is to pull down the
headstocks and bulldoze our history and heritage into oblivion leaving the site clear of any memory or evidence we
were ever here.

CAMPAIGN TO SAVE THE HEAD GEAR, AS A TRIBUTE TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THESE COAL COMMUNITIES WHO TOILED, BLED AND DIED IN A CENTURY OF STRUGGLE.

RALLY; WAGGONS WAY, Stainforth, Doncaster. AT THE
ROUNDABOUT NEAR THE PIT GATES. Sat 25th July 10.am

We will not go quietly into that long good night- fight to save these headstocks in tribute to our forefathers and mothers to preserve the memory of who we are and where we came from.

Organised by Hatfield Main Colliery Community Heritage Association,
hatfieldmaincollieryheritage@yahoo.co.uk sec;07836359962

Headstocks rally 1
Headstocks protest 2

Support the calls for a public inquiry in to Orgreave

THE ORGREAVE TRUTH AND JUSTICE CAMPAIGN is seeking truth and justice for all miners victimised by the police at the Orgreave Coking Plant, South Yorkshire on 18/6/84. Orgreave is part of a pattern of covers ups and lies by police in different forces which are now being exposed. We call for a full public inquiry to take place as soon as possible into the policing and the statements recorded by the police at the time. We want everyone who seeks truth and justice to support our campaign.

Only hours after the announcement on 12 June by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) that it would not be conducting a full investigation into events at Orgreave coking works near Rotherham on 18 June 1984 the Home Office issued the following statement:-

“The Home Secretary will consider any request she receives to set up a public inquiry into Orgreave.”

Backing for a public inquiry has been steadily built since November 2012 by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC), which has worked closely with the National Union of Mineworkers’ in the process.

Backing from Hillsborough campaigners
Hillsborough families and campaigners have provided inspiration for OTJC members and on 12 June both the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and the Hillsborough Family Support Group stated their desire to see a public inquiry over Orgreave.

IPCC unable to locate key documents whilst highlighting police malpractice
The IPCC’s report into why it was standing aside highlighted that the organisation had been unable to locate a series of important documents including the policing operational orders that were drawn up in advance of 18 June.

Detailed analysis of the report also revealed that the IPCC – which cited the historic nature of events and limited resources as the primary reasons why it was unwilling to conduct a further investigation – had detailed a cover up by South Yorkshire Police (SYP) of malpractice it knew had taken place. The IPCC report largely conceded that only a public inquiry can eventually get to the truth.

The IPCC also overlooked that an important component of the “public interest” requirement is upholding public confidence in the police, particularly in South Yorkshire, and wrongly assumes that there is no new learning to be
taken into account.

Legal and political challenge ahead
In response to the Home Office statement of 12 June the OTJC is currently exploring legal avenues in our struggle for a public inquiry. Meanwhile, OTJC is appealing for ongoing public support such that the Home Secretary is pressurised into agreeing to a public inquiry.

If you haven’t already done so please get your organisation to pass the following resolution:
This (organisation) backs the call by the OTJC for a public inquiry into events at Orgreave on 18 June 1984 and requests the Home Secretary to establish just such an inquiry as soon as possible.

The OTJC would welcome invitations to speak at trade union and labour movement meetings, demonstrations, rallies and on picket lines.

Please download and share this leaflet widely: ORGREAVE_26888_Proof1

Next Orgreave T&J Meeting

Please come along to our next regular Orgreave Truth and Justice meeting, Tuesday 14th July, 7pm start at Chesterfield Labour Club, Saltergate.

This meeting is open to everyone interested in supporting the Orgreave Campaign.

Henietta Hill, Doughty St Chambers Barrister is coming along to talk about the legal issues relating to the Independant Police Complaints Commission report and decision and a Full Public Inquiry or Hillsborough style Panel Hearing (HIP).

This is a good opportunity to meet the other campaigners, hear what other things we plan or involved in, find out how you could play a part.

We are again at a crossroads with everything to play for in our fight for transparency, accountability and justice.

Louise Haigh secures meeting with Home Secretary over Orgreave

Louise, a delegation of MPs and the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign have today secured a meeting with the Home Secretary to press the case for a full public inquiry into the events surrounding the Orgreave coking plant in June 1984.

The shock decision by the IPCC not to investigate the serious criminal allegations surrounding the South Yorkshire Police Force, angered many and Louise had joined with fellow MPs to call for a meeting with the Home Secretary to press the case for a full public inquiry.

The Home Secretary has agreed to meet with the delegation of MPs and in light of the seriousness of the allegations against South Yorkshire Police, including perjury, perverting the course of justice, misconduct in a public office, and whether the actions of the police were influenced by the highest levels of government. Finally given the scale of public concern, the case for a full public inquiry into the events of Orgreave is clear.

Orgreave Rally Gallery

Picture gallery of images from Thursday’s rally at Old Bridge.

Louise Haigh MP requests urgent meeting with Home Secretary over Orgreave

From Louise Haigh MP’s website.

Louise Haigh MP, Ian Lavery MP (Chair of the Trade Union Group) and 60 other Labour MPs have joined with the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign to ask for an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary following the decision of the IPCC not to investigate serious criminal allegations made against South Yorkshire Police in the events surrounding Orgreave in June 1984.

The letter calls for a full public inquiry and asks the Home Secretary to meet with the campaign group and a delegation of Labour MPs to discuss the next steps forward for the campaign for justice, following the disappointing decision of the IPCC.

The letter and signatories are reproduced below:

Secretary of State for the Home Office,

We are writing with regard to the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s decision of Friday 12th June not to launch an investigation into the South Yorkshire Police’s handling of events at the Orgreave coking plant in June 1984.

As the IPCC Deputy Chair, Sarah Green, herself notes in the full decision rationale “the events of June 1984 marked not only a critical point in the miners’ strike, but also in the relationship with, and trust in, the police”.

However, Sarah Green states that to conduct a full investigation into whether “individual officers perjured themselves, there was controlling intelligence at a senior level, or a systematic integrity issue within the force which led to evidence being fabricated” would be “extremely challenging for the IPCC” involving “hundreds of witnesses, many of whom were relatively junior at the time” and “the fact that it has taken us two years to gather and read existing documentation – which is by no means complete – indicates the scale of the challenge”.

Given the IPCC have indicated they do not have the capacity to carry out such an important investigation and in light of the seriousness of the allegations against South Yorkshire Police, including perjury, perverting the course of justice, misconduct in a public office, and whether the actions of the police were influenced by the highest levels of government and finally given the scale of public concern, the case for a full public inquiry into the events of Orgreave is clear.

That case must surely have been strengthened by the view of the Deputy Chair of the IPCC herself in the full decision rationale that such questions can only be answered “if there is a full public inquiry or an exercise like the Hillsborough Independent Panel (HIP)” concluding that “nothing in this report precludes such an exercise”.

We are therefore writing to request an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary, a delegation of MPs, representatives from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, and victims to enable the representatives to make the case for a full public inquiry and to ask the government whether ministers will move to establish such an inquiry.

We look forward to hearing from you at the earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

Louise Haigh, Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley

Ian Lavery, Member of Parliament for Wansbeck and Chair of the Trade Union Group

Joe Rollin, Chair of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC)

Barbara Jackson, Secretary of the OTJC

Paul Blomfield, Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central

Clive Betts, Member of Parliament for Sheffield South East

Michael Dugher, Member of Parliament for Barnsley East

Harry Harpham, Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough

Dan Jarvis, Member of Parliament for Barnsley Central

Sarah Champion, Member of Parliament for Rotherham

Dennis Skinner, Member of Parliament for Bolsover

Dave Crausby, Member of Parliament for Bolton North East

Ian Mearns, Member of Parliament for Gateshead

Grahame Morris, Member of Parliament for Easington

Richard Burgon, Member of Parliament for Leeds East

Dave Anderson, Member of Parliament for Blaydon

Rachael Maskell, Member of Parliament for York Central

Emma Lewell-Buck, Member of Parliament for South Shields

Steve Rotheram, Member of Parliament for Liverpool Walton

Kelvin Hopkins, Member of Parliament for Luton North

John McDonnell, Member of Parliament for Hayes and Harlington

Alex Cunningham, Member of Parliament for Stockton North

Stephen Kinnock, Member of Parliament Aberavon

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Member of Parliament for Torfaen

Ruth Smeeth, Member of Parliament for Stoke on Trent North

Barbara Keeley, Member of Parliament for Worsley and Eccles South

Ronnie Campbell, Member of Parliament for Blyth Valley

Paula Sherriff, Member of Parliament for Dewsbury

Thangam Debbonaire, Member of Parliament for Bristol West

Julie Elliott, Member of Parliament for Sunderland Central

Mary Creagh, Member of Parliament for Wakefield

Andrew Gwynne, Member of Parliament for Denton and Reddish

Wes Streeting, Member of Parliament for Illford North

Madeline Moon, Member of Parliament for Bridgend

Jo Stevens, Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central

Pat Glass, Member of Parliament for North West Durham

Emily Thornberry, Member of Parliament for Islington South and Finsbury

Jonathan Reynolds, Member of Parliament for Stalybridge and Hyde

Angela Rayner, Member of Parliament for Ashton-under-Lyme

Justin Madders, Member of Parliament for Ellsmere Port and Neston

John Woodcock, Member of Parliament for Barrow and Furness

Yvonne Fovargue, Member of Parliament for Makerfield

John Mann, Member of Parliament for Bassetlaw

Helen Jones, Member of Parliament for Warrington North

Lilian Greenwood, Member of Parliament Nottingham South

Melanie Onn, Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby

John Cryer, Member of Parliament for Leyton and Wanstead

Cat Smith, Member of Parliament for Lancaster and Fleetwood

Chris Matheson, Member of Parliament for City of Chester

Rosie Cooper, Member of Parliament for West Lancashire

George Howarth, Member of Parliament for Knowsley

Catherine McKinnell, Member of Parliament for Newcastle North

Fiona Mactaggert, Member of Parliament for Slough

Maria Eagle, Member of Parliament for Garston and Halewood

Diane Abbott, Member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington

Paul Flynn, Member of Parliament for Newport West

Nia Griffith, Member of Parliament for Llanelli

Vicky Foxcroft, Member of Parliament for Lewisham Deptford

Ruth Cadbury, Member of Parliament for Brentford and Isleworth

Rob Marris, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West

Andrew Smith, Member of Parliament for Oxford East

Barry Sheerman, Member of Parliament for Huddersfield

Valerie Vaz, Member of Parliament for Walsall South

Matthew Pennycook, Member of Parliament for Greenwich and Woolwich