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Orgreave: Police violence and cover-up whitewashed by IPCC
On 18 June 1984 thousands of riot police, many on horseback, brutally attacked a mass picket of striking miners at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire. Hundreds of miners were injured, some seriously, many arrested and 95 charged with unlawful assembly. The subsequent trial of these miners collapsed after six weeks because the police evidence was unreliable.
Now, despite evidence of assaulting striking miners, and subsequently perverting the course of justice and committing perjury, the so-called Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said it will not pursue a criminal investigation into the actions of South Yorkshire police on that day 'because of the passage of time'.
This decision amounts to a whitewash of South Yorkshire police and indeed the Tory Thatcher government, whose aim was to crush the strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in order to break organised workers' resistance to pit closures and privatisation.
The violence perpetrated by South Yorkshire police at Orgreave, which has gone unpunished, is the latest in a string of disgraceful and potentially criminal actions which include the Hillsborough football stadium tragedy in 1989, with 96 dead, and covering up the child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham between 2007 and 2010.
This latest miscarriage of justice reinforces the demand of the Orgeave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) for a full and independent public inquiry into the 'Battle of Orgreave'.
Despite frustration at the IPCC's decision the OTJC says: "An inquiry will help reveal exactly why, when the subsequent court cases took place, all of the charges, including riot were abandoned. It must inevitably lead to two things: Some officers being charged with a series of offences - assault, perjury, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in a public office. Secondly, a paper trail that would indicate that the actions of the police at Orgreave were influenced by political pressure from within the highest ranks of the government of the day."
The Battle of Orgreave - an eyewitness account
I remember that it was a beautiful sunny English summer's day. Against us were lined the massed ranks of police, in ordinary uniform at first. These officers soon stood down for those kitted in full riot gear.
These storm troopers soon weighed into the pickets who fought back manfully at first but all we had were fists and feet against batons, shields and helmets. The blows were relentless, bloodied pickets were everywhere.
The memory that has stuck with me is the look on the faces of the police. They were loving the pain and terror that they were paying out to people fighting to save their communities.
One comrade from my pit was trampled by a horse and even after the end of the year long strike couldn't return to work for another three months due to the extent of his injuries. Another comrade was jailed in Lincoln prison for 'unlawful assembly'. What a price to pay for wanting to secure a future for your family.
The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign is doing a great job, but could we spare a thought for the men and women we have lost over the years? They will never see justice for their fight and carry the stain of the lies from the media, police and politicians to their graves.
La lutte continue!
Ian Whitehouse, Sheffield
A civil war without guns - Lessons of the 1984-85 miners strike by Ken Smith
Only £7 (free postage)
Available from Left Books,
PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD
020 8988 8789
Orgreave truth and justice campaign
31st anniversary rally at Old Bridge, Top End, just off Handsworth Road, S13 9NA on Thursday 18 June 2015 at 5.30pm
- Tosh MacDonald - ASLEF President
- Barbara Jackson - OTJC Secretary
- Chris Skidmore - Yorkshire Area NUM President
- Kevin Horne & Arthur Critchelow - miners arrested at Orgreave in 1984
- Craig and Mick Oldham, who will be reading from 'In Loving Memory of Work.'
- Juztine Jenkinson - daughter of photographer Martin Jenkinson
In The Socialist 17 June 2015:
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