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