SUNDAY DAILY STAR By Jonathan Corke/Published 9th February 2014
Police alleged to have colluded to frame miners had identical wording in their statements THREE police chiefs on duty at a picket where officers are alleged to have colluded to frame miners had more than 70 similar or identical lines in their statements.
For 15 months the police watchdog has been studying claims that officers “fitted up” 95 miners arrested at Orgreave, South Yorks, in 1984. Many of the men faced serious charges such as riot but all were cleared amid allegations police fabricated evidence after the incident during the miners’ strike. No officer was ever disciplined or charged even though some miners were awarded compensation. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) began a “scoping exercise” in 2012 after claims that statements from arresting officers and others contained identical passages. Now the Daily Star Sunday has been leaked the accounts of three senior officers on duty when 8,000 miners assembled to picket the coking plant on June 18. They reveal line after line of matching phrases. The first, by Anthony Clement, then South Yorkshire Police’s assistant chief constable in charge of the operation, is dated June 18. “Police were subjected to a hail of missiles including bricks, stones, lengths of wooden fencing, glass bottles and metal objects” Defence barrister Michael Mansfield QC The other two, by then superintendent Keith Povey and chief inspector Peter Hale, are both dated July 14.Apart from one phrase the statements of Mr Povey, who was knighted in 2001, and Mr Hale are identical. Similarities between all three start on page four of Mr Clement’s account. After page five there are large sections of identical phrases. Mark George, a criminal barrister who has studied the accounts, said: “The evidence of collusion is, I suggest, overwhelming.” Among the similarities is a claim that at 8am Arthur Scargill – then leader of the National Union of Mineworkers – walked along the police line “shaking his head as though he might have been an inspecting officer”. Defence barrister Michael Mansfield QC wrote in his memoirs that videos showed Mr Scargill was “nowhere to be seen” at that time. The trio later claimed miners “violently charged police lines”, adding: “Police were subjected to a hail of missiles including bricks, stones, lengths of wooden fencing, glass bottles and metal objects.” Line after line of the statements used identical wording and phrases. All three concluded: “There is no doubt in my mind what happened at Orgreave today was a riot.” Mr George said it was “not unacceptable at the time for officers to pool their recollections” to ensure accuracy. But he added: “When the copying is as blatant as it was in this case it smacks of manufacturing an account that suited the narrative the police wished to present. “If that was the case and it was an untrue account, it amounts to perverting the course of justice.” The IPCC will announce later this year whether it will launch a full investigation into claims of perverting the course of justice, perjury and assault.