Call for South Yorkshire Police to make '˜Battle of Orgreave' archives public
Critics of the police action at the Orgreave coking plant during the 1984 miners' strike have called on the new interim chief constable of South Yorkshire Police to open up the force's archives.
The challenge from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign came the day after Dave Jones marked the moment he took over temporary control of the South Yorkshire force by offering to listen to the activists, as well as families of the 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster.
Campaign secretary Barbara Jackson said they will take up Mr Jones’s offer but said they did not want it to be a ‘token gesture’.
Mrs Jackson said they want the chief constable to intervene in their legal bid to push Home Secretary Theresa May to hold a public inquiry into the events at Orgreave 32 years ago.
Former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, who was arrested during Orgreave disturbances, has also called for a public inquiry into what happened.
South Yorkshire Police referred itself to the IPCC in 2012 over allegations officers colluded to write court statements relating to Orgreave.
The watchdog later said the passage of time prevented a formal investigation but said there was ‘support’ for the allegation that senior police exaggerated pickets’ use of violence.
Mrs Jackson said: “We would be prepared to meet with Dave Jones if it’s going to be a productive meeting, and not just a token gesture.
“We have our legal submission that’s been with Theresa May since mid December. Our view is that if Dave Jones wants to be helpful and move things along, he needs to contact Theresa May and say: ‘you must be near in making a decision about whether to grant these people what they want and, if you do grant them what they want, I can assure you that I will open our archives, I will offer you the full cooperation of the South Yorkshire Police in pursuing the objective of the Orgreave campaigners’.
“That would be really helpful.”
She added: “There’s a huge cry now for more transparency and more accountability about these long-running injustices.
“It’s really unfair that ordinary people have to campaign for years and years and fight against all odds to get what they know is the truth out there and admitted by the police.
“The South Yorkshire Police stands disgraced yet again by the appalling way they defended themselves in the Hillsborough inquests and fought back, resurrected all the lies.”
The ‘Battle of Orgreave’ involved large numbers of pickets and around 6,000 police officers from all around the UK.
A total of 95 miners were charged following the disturbances but their trial collapsed.
Dave Jones, who is the chief constable of North Yorkshire, was appointed to run South Yorkshire Police on a temporary basis on Tuesday.
His appointment follows the suspension of South Yorkshire chief constable David Crompton following the Hillsborough inquests and the short lived tenure of his deputy, Dawn Copley, who stood down from the temporary role after it emerged she was under investigation for alleged misconduct by her previous force.