From Jonathan Corke at the Daily Star Sunday 24th March 2013
DETAILS of an alleged plot to fit-up striking miners can today be revealed.
Hundreds of serving and retired police officers could now face charges over the “Battle of Orgreave” during the year-long miners’ strike of 1984-85.
Documents obtained by this newspaper show how police seemingly set out to frame pickets. They reveal:
A team of nine detectives was set up to build cases against miners.
Its head and a chief constable could face charges of perverting justice if they were still alive today.
Scores of officers used identical words and phrases in their statements.
Prior to the clash at the South Yorkshire coking plant, which saw police and pickets hurt, miners had been arrested and charged with minor public order offences.
But around three weeks before the skirmishes, South Yorkshire’s chief constable assembled a team to build cases of unlawful assembly or riot – offences which carried a potential life term.
Documents show the unit was told to “be deployed at Orgreave in order to gather and collate the evidence to support such charges”.
Made up of a detective inspector, two detective sergeants and four constables, the team was “overseen” by a superintendent and answerable to a detective chief superintendent we understand was Robin Herold. The papers show in the days before June 18, 1984, the team “refined” a system in which parts of “arresting and corroborating” officers’ statements were dictated.
Prior to June 18 they are believed to have contributed to 52 charges of unlawful assembly and riot relating to three separate clashes.
By the day of the “battle”, unnamed members of the team dictated “the opening paragraphs of statements in order to set the scene”.
Police said they did this as most officers were “from foreign forces and unfamiliar with the local area”.
But the statements reveal how scores of officers used exactly the same words and phrases.
Statements including “as we stood there in the line a continuous stream of missiles came from the pickets into the police line” were made by dozens of officers from four forces.
Others used identical language to describe what pickets had allegedly done and the timings of missile throwing, which was crucial to the later discredited police account of why pickets were brutally battered.
Criminal barrister Mark George QC said the statements show “widespread collusion”. He told the Daily Star Sunday: “There were whole phrases that you couldn’t possibly get a group of people to use unless it was being spoon-fed to them.”
Some miners, like Gary Kirby, found their statements were written by South Yorkshire police, although they were arrested by other forces.
Gary, 54, cleared of unlawful assembly, told us: “It was all totally made up.”
Ninety-five miners were arrested and charged with serious criminal offences but were later cleared.
South Yorks Police paid out to 39 miners for unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution. But no officer was ever charged.
Chief Constable Peter Wright later went on to authorise the cover-up of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which claimed 96 lives.
Like Hillsborough, events at Orgreave are under scrutiny after South Yorkshire referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission following a 2012 TV documentary.
Referral papers show if he had still been alive, Mr Wright – who died in 2011 – could face two counts of perverting the course of justice.
Also in the frame would be DCS Herold, who is now dead, along with several retired detectives.
The referral raises the possibility officers will be quizzed if they “made a statement which contains evidence that was not true”.
Others could face perjury charges over evidence given in trials.