Orgreave: A battle for justice

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Sinead Corkett-Beirne and Benjamin Eckford discuss why the refusal to conduct a fresh inquest into the 1984 clash between police and miners is a complete disgrace

The government’s decision to reject an appeal for an inquiry into the battle of Orgreave has been buried underground. The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, deemed that it was unnecessary to review a single drop of evidence held by South Yorkshire police before she made the executive decision to not pursue the case any further. Rudd might as well have rubbed salt into the wounds of the ninety-five miners that were arrested in the ordeal, not to mention all those who have campaigned tirelessly to find out the truth.

“The public has been been denied a full and accurate account for thirty-two years, and the police violence and attempts to smear the miners have gone unrecognised and unpunished”

The confrontation that took place at the coking plant on 18th June 1984 was nothing short of legalised state violence. Whether you agreed with the governments decision to close down twenty mines in 1984 or not, the violence that the British state inflicted against its own citizens at Orgreave was inexcusable. As the granddaughter of a former miner I stand by my opinion that the government made the wrong decision to shut down the industry, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without a job.

“Thatcher was determined to break trade union power and the cohesive spirit of the working class in Britain”

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had every right to partake in striking as a form of protest; some conducted during 1972 and 1974 helped to bring down Ted Heath’s Conservative government. The miners picket that took place from 3rd – 10th February 1972, in particular, blocked any fuel from leaving Saltley Gate fuel depot which essentially forced Heath to meet the demands put forward by the miners involved.

Margaret Thatcher, who had served in Heath’s cabinet, was determined not to let history repeat itself. Thatcher was determined to break trade union power and the cohesive spirit of the working class in Britain. The NUM was the strongest trade union in the country, and many working class communities were built on coal mining.

The 18 June 1984 confrontation was a microcosm of the struggle. Over six thousand police officers were given the licence to charge on horseback at striking miners. They used violence at their own will, and they abused their authority by arresting anyone who even remotely tried to defend oneself. The BBC showed footage that had been edited to deliberately show the miners attacking first, when in actual fact this was not the case. Consequently, seventy-one miners were charged with riot related charges and twenty-four were arrested for violent disorder.

“The BBC showed footage that had been edited to deliberately show the miners attacking first, when in actual fact this was not the case”

It does not come as a surprise that all those arrested were acquitted because the evidence submitted by South Yorkshire police was deemed unreliable.It is in the publics interest for them to know exactly what happened at Orgreave, especially after the cover-up of Hillsborough. The disaster occurred five years after Orgreave, and it is worth reminding ourselves that it was the South Yorkshire police force that were responsible.

The public has been been denied a full and accurate account for thirty-two years, and the police violence and attempts to smear the miners have gone unrecognised and unpunished. Truth and justice has finally been served for Hillsborough – now it must follow for Orgreave.

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