Orgreave inquiry campaigners say the gloves are off

Campaign considers bid for judicial review of Amber Rudd’s refusal to investigate clashes between police and miners

Campaigners for an inquiry into the “Battle of Orgreave” have declared that the gloves are off as they step up calls for a judge-led investigation into brutal clashes between police and mineworkers during the 1984 miners’ strike.

In a defiant press conference at the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) hall in Barnsley, campaigners said they were considering mounting a crowdfunded bid for a judicial review of Amber Rudd’s decision not to hold any kind of inquiry into the episode.

Barbara Jackson, secretary of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, was close to tears as she described feeling “shocked and devastated” by the home secretary’s decision.

Addressing the crowd of former pitworkers, their relatives, supporters and union activists in the South Yorkshire town, Jackson said: “As you can all tell this is very difficult and very disappointing but there are options for the future, some of them we will be discussing with the legal people about the possibility of a judicial review.

“We have focused on police violence because we thought that was the best way to get our inquiry – now we’re going to focus as well as that on the political side of the strike and the involvement of Margaret Thatcher’s government of the time … We regard the gloves as off on our side.”

Jackson told the gathering that she had struggled to contain her emotion when she received the “very calculated and very cold” phone call from Rudd informing her of the government’s decision on Monday afternoon.

“When she rang she was completely matter of fact, she said, ‘Listen to me say what I’ve got to say, then you can ask any questions.’ It was all very calculated and very cold. She read me – I didn’t know at the time – but she read me what was her ministerial statement she was going to read to parliament. I was shocked and devastated to find out we were not going to be offered anything.”

Jackson said the campaign had received a flood of support and donations since the announcement, as she revealed that its lawyers were considering a crowdfunded bid for a judicial review.

Police disperse miners at Orgreave.
Police disperse miners at Orgreave. Photograph: Photofusion/REX/Shutterstock

She said Jeremy Corbyn had promised an Orgreave inquiry if Labour were elected at the next general election, and that the campaign was also looking at a possible “peoples’ inquiry”.

The South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, is also exploring ways of opening up the South Yorkshire police archives from the episode.

“There’s still lots of mileage to cover but we need you with us, like we’ve always needed you with us, because we can’t do this on our own. The campaign will keep going,” Jackson added.

Orgreave inquiry: Burnham accuses Rudd of ‘nakedly political act’ – video

Andy Burnham, the former shadow home secretary who campaigned for an inquiry into both Orgreave and the Hillsborough disaster, raised an urgent question in the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon. He described Rudd’s decision as an “establishment stitch-up” and “a purely political act”.

Explaining her decision on Monday, Rudd said very few lessons for policing could be learned from a review of the events 30 years ago. She said there had been no deaths and no miscarriages of justice to investigate – claims that prompted jeers of “shame” when mentioned at the NUM rally on Tuesday.

Chris Hockney, deputy chair of the Orgreave Truth and Justice campaign, said an inquiry would have helped heal the wounds of the 1984 clashes, which he said continued to affect the region today. “There’s a lot of mistrust and bitterness about what they did in 1984 and an inquiry would help get to the bottom of that,” he said. “There’s certainly none or very little trust in a lot of the police, but it’s not against the day-to-day officers – it’s the hierarchy.”


Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Amber Rudd did not review police files before Orgreave inquiry refusal
Campaigners say home secretary made superficial decision ‘without bothering to look at the evidence’

David Conn

11, Nov, 2016 @7:00 AM

Article image
Orgreave inquiry now needed more urgently | Letters
Letters: The acquittal of 10 of the Rotherham 12, arrested while defending their communities against racist attacks, shows that police tactics have not changed


20, Nov, 2016 @7:20 PM

Article image
I was at Orgreave – an inquiry is needed | Letters
Letters: I was the only journalist present throughout the whole of the picketing at the plant over a three-week period, reporting for the Guardian


08, Nov, 2016 @7:08 PM

Article image
Battle of Orgreave: home secretary to decide on new inquiry
Amber Rudd expected to launch new inquiry into 1984 clash between police and striking miners after damning Hillsborough verdict on South Yorkshire force

Alan Travis Home affairs editor

31, Oct, 2016 @7:12 AM

Article image
Labour presses Amber Rudd for decision on Battle of Orgreave inquiry
Home secretary has told campaigners she will decide by end of October whether to investigate police conduct at 1984 picket

Frances Perraudin North of England reporter

15, Sep, 2016 @12:04 PM

Article image
So many reasons for an inquiry into Orgreave | Letters
Letters: Unless we can reveal what happened in the past with absolute transparency, we cannot have any confidence that the same possible malpractice is not likely today


01, Nov, 2016 @6:51 PM

Article image
Thirty-five years on, Orgreave campaigners still seek justice
Rally will mark anniversary of violent confrontation between police and striking miners

David Conn

15, Jun, 2019 @5:00 AM

Article image
The Guardian view on Orgreave: refusing an inquiry is a denial of justice | Editorial
Editorial: Insisting on police accountability would have offered redress to wronged miners and helped restore trust in the government’s claim that it governs for all


31, Oct, 2016 @7:18 PM

Article image
Orgreave files reveal anxiety that evidence flaws could warrant inquiry
Exclusive: Home Office files, including a 1985 memo to Margaret Thatcher, released after public inquiry ruled out last month

Alan Travis Home affairs editor

21, Nov, 2016 @4:42 PM

Article image
Orgreave inquiry calls grow after damning Hillsborough verdict for police
South Yorkshire police’s alleged ‘frame-up’ of striking miners in 1984 is consistent with force’s conduct five years later

David Conn

16, May, 2016 @9:50 AM