Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Battle of Orgreave: Arthur Scargill calls for public inquiry

Orgreave confrontation Image copyright PA
Image caption Thousands of miners and police clashed at the Orgreave coking site in South Yorkshire

Former miners' union president Arthur Scargill has called for an inquiry into the 1984 Battle of Orgreave disorder.

Thousands of miners and police clashed at the South Yorkshire coking plant.

A redacted version of an IPCC report into police conduct was published last year, with the police watchdog now considering releasing a full copy.

The Yorkshire Post reported the redacted sections show the same senior officers were involved both in the aftermath of Orgreave and Hillsborough.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Scargill, who led the National Union of Mineworkers during the 1984-85 miners' strike, said: "I want to see a full open public inquiry and the individuals responsible should be named.

"I accuse those individuals now."

What was the 'Battle of Orgreave'?

Mr Scargill, 78, said the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher, the late Conservative politician Sir Leon Brittan, the government at large and various police forces were to blame for the "bloodshed".

A South Yorkshire Police (SYP) spokesman said: "SYP is aware of the campaign for a public inquiry, however it is a matter for the Home Secretary and Home Office."

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Media captionArthur Scargill claims a “full public inquiry” is needed into the so-called Battle of Orgreave

Mr Scargill claims there were similarities between the way police acted in the aftermath of Orgreave and events following the Hillsborough disaster.

He said: "A full inquiry will reveal that they concocted stories, they told lies.

"For example, they said when I was knocked unconscious that I slipped on a grassy bank. When a photograph was produced it showed I'd been hit by a policeman's short shield."

The so-called Battle of Orgreave saw thousands of pickets confront huge lines of police outside the coke works near Rotherham.

Miners wanted to stop lorry loads of coke leaving for the steel works, with police holding them back.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it was currently examining whether there were any remaining legal issues preventing the full publication of its report.

Image caption The clashes at Orgreave were among the most violent of the 1984-5 miners' strike

A spokeswoman for the police watchdog said the 2015 report had been redacted as a result of legal matters, including some relating to the Hillsborough inquests, which concluded last month.

She said: "We are now considering whether the legal issues that prompted the report being redacted still remain.

"One key consideration is that the IPCC and Operation Resolve are conducting criminal investigations into the events at Hillsborough and its aftermath.

"As a result we must now carefully consider whether we can publish an unredacted version of the report at this stage without compromising the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigations."

Operation Resolve is the continuing police inquiry into the events of the day of the Hillsborough disaster and its lead-up.

In 2015, the IPCC said the passage of time meant allegations of assault and misconduct at Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham "could not be pursued".

'The full truth'

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham said the IPCC report contained proof "underhand tactics were used first against South Yorkshire miners before being deployed to much more deadly effect against Liverpool supporters [at Hillsborough]".

He said: "As I've always said, we won't have the truth about Hillsborough until we have the full truth about Orgreave."

Campaigners have called on Dave Jones, the new interim chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, to open up the force's archives on Orgreave.

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign said they want Mr Jones to intervene in their legal bid to push Home Secretary Theresa May to hold a public inquiry.

Louise Haigh, Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley, said: "It's really important that these documents are made public and the Home Secretary can then commission a full public inquiry just as she did with Hillsborough.

"These documents are only the starting point of that."

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