“The OTJC has seen Sunday’s press reports suggesting that the Home Secretary has “ruled out a “Hillsborough-style” public inquiry” into Orgreave, as it would “potentially take a very long time and be totally unwieldy in terms of cost”.
When we met with the Home Secretary last week she did not lead us to believe that a decision that there should be an inquiry had already been made, and had we known that, we would have focussed our conversation with her differently.
However we welcome the fact that the Home Secretary is now apparently actively considering how Orgreave should be investigated and not if. She appears to accept that it is essential that these events are looked at.
We also welcome the fact that reports suggest she is considering how to make the Orgreave documents public: full disclosure was an essential part of the transparency and truth achieved by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, and the same is needed in respect of Orgreave.
In terms of the model for any inquiry, the OTJC has always been willing to discuss different formats for any investigation, as well as that of a full public inquiry. (Contrary to the quotes in the press, there was no “public inquiry” in the Hillsborough case: there was an independent panel report, and then fresh inquests, which the Attorney General himself sought).
However the OTJC believes that a lawyer led, non-public review, which is the form of inquiry to be inferred from press reports, would be totally inadequate in this case since the base data and evidence is well established through the original trials and the work of the IPCC. It is the more far-reaching and significant questions about policing, political responsibility and individual accountability that require a judge or Panel-led inquiry. We repeat our position that if any inquiry is to be effective and command confidence, it must have full powers to ensure that all relevant evidence is obtained, the ability to produce a detailed report and the involvement of those with sufficient expertise and independence to deliver robust conclusions.
In terms of costs, it is also important to remember that the IPCC did 2 years’ worth of investigation on the Orgreave case, and so a significant amount of work has already been done. We therefore consider that the costs are likely to be less than those of the Hillsborough case.
We hope that the Home Secretary will engage with us further about this issue in an open way.