Miners defend themselves from police at Orgreave in 1984 (Picture: John Sturrock, Socialist Worker’s photographer at the time)

Campaigners demanding the truth about events at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire during the 1984-5 miners’ strike unveiled shocking new evidence on Tuesday.

Their report was to be delivered to the Home Office and the headquarters of major political parties.

It contains new information recently uncovered including public statements of police and government actions during the year-long strike. The report confirms the prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her government were influencing the miners’ strike and policing, while publicly stating a policy of “non-involvement”.

Orgreave on 18 June 1984 represents one of the most serious abuses of power by police and government in industrial and trade union history. The truth has never been acknowledged by the state. 

Instead, as this report confirms, successive Conservative Governments and senior police have worked to cover it up. Many files remain unexamined or inaccessible to the public until at least 2066.

Patrick McCarroll, a miner at Orgreave said, “At Orgreave I was terrified. Anyone that says they weren’t is a liar.

“We were in the field, near the back. There were dogs everywhere. I was chased all the way. The dogs were barking, I ran across the railway line, away from them. I ran and ran, there was an Asda, I ran through that, there were horses chasing men through the car park. There were people hiding up trees, people trying to hide everywhere.”

Striking coal miners who turned up at Orgreave to picket 40 years ago planned to hit steel production and go on the offensive against the Tories and the bosses.

For the government it was an opportunity to crush the striking miners and prove that industrial resistance was hopeless.

Orgreave should have been a turning point that lifted the strikes. But union leaders did not come to the miners’ aid. 

Kate Flannery from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign said, “It is important that the truth is established via an independent inquiry and that the police and government are brought to account for their actions.

“This day is particularly significant as it shines a light on what was going on in mining villages and communities throughout the strike.”

Kevin Horne, a miner arrested at Orgreave said, “There has been no accountability of policing at Orgreave. This sent a very clear message that the police could employ violence with impunity.

“This must surely have set a culture for the police cover up in 1989 at Hillsborough. We want the answers to questions about the lying and violent behaviour of the police. We want to know how police officers were briefed and why they were not held to account by the director of public prosecutions or their own employer.”

One of the first acts of a Labour government should be to release all the evidence about Orgreave and open the way for justice.

But previous Labour governments prioritised defending the state ahead of telling the truth about, for example, the Shrewsbury 24 case. It will take continuing pressure to win. 

Read the new report at  https://otjc.org.uk/orgreave-truth-and-justice-40-years-on-the-case-for-an-inquiry/

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