Labour MSPs have successfully ensured that the Scottish Government will hold an independent review into the actions of the police during the miners’ strike in Scotland.
Dame Vera Baird QC, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria who was one of the barristers defending northern miners in the Orgreave Trial and who also acted in many other cases has given her support to the Scottish Government, and reiterated her call for the new Home Secretary to get a grip and order an inquiry into Orgreave and police conduct there, and in the many hundreds of other cases in which miners were prosecuted during the strike. An IPCC investigation found that there were many issues to pursue, which were, in effect, too big for their remit and those findings have never been taken on by the government. The former Home Secretary dismissed calls for a public inquiry with no reasoning to justify it and to the pain of the many families who still feel the effects of their loved ones having undergone often lengthy periods under threat of charges carrying life or very long sentences
Back in May 2016, Dame Vera urged the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, to put in place a structure to ensure an honest, open and transparent investigation.
Today, Dame Vera said “The Scottish Government has taken a proper and wise decision to launch a review to establish if the arrests and convictions were unjust and politically motivated. This is exactly the same reasons why many have argued for an independent inquiry into the brutal clashes between police and miners during the strike in 1984, not least at Orgreave where so many questions still need to be answered.
The damage done to Scottish and Orgreave miners, most of whom had never been involved with the criminal justice system before devastated not only their lives, but those of their families’ too while also scarring pit communities until this day”.
Dame Vera added “The new Home Secretary can right the wrongs of his Tory predecessors, by getting justice for the miners of Orgreave and other cases. He needs to authorise the release of papers to allow Orgreave to be fully resolved. This is a situation in which Scotland is leading in the right way and the Westminster Government should share that governments understanding of the abiding sense of injustice which prevails and should follow suit
Dame Vera added “This is a simple task, and the Home Secretary should action the independent review for the files to be released as a matter of urgency”.