Page last updated Saturday 5th October at 1145hrs
In much the same way as Hillsborough, a short explanation is offered as to how a West Yorkshire based operation such as uPSD will become involved: South Yorkshire Police have referred the malicious and falsely-evidenced prosecutions of miners present at Orgreave in June 1984 to the IPCC. Eminent legal figures such as Michael Mansfield QC and Vera Baird QC – both having defended different batches of accused miners – have stated categorically that SYP perjured evidence and indulged themselves in a sustained and widespread conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Indeed, Mr Mansfield said: ‘It was the biggest frame up ever’ in his 2009 memoirs.
It is, however, likely that the inquiry will spread to the mining heartlands of the old West Riding where many other battles were fought between police and striking miners. Allegedly, the same ‘fitting-up’ of prosecutions was prevalent in West Yorkshire Police.
BBC television footage and newspaper photographs at Orgreave showed miners being beaten with truncheons by police, some in riot gear and some on horses, who claimed they were attacked first by the miners picketing the coking plant. South Yorkshire Police arrested miners at Orgreave for public order offences such as throwing stones and then prosecuted for riot or unlawful assembly, which carried a potential life sentence. This is a link to a film made by BBC Look North’s Dan Johnson. Click here.
All accused miners were acquitted on 17 July 1985 when the prosecution withdrew after the police’s oral and written evidence in Court had been thoroughly discredited. Each prosecution was supported by two police officers making near-identical statements. One police officer admitted in court that sections of his statement had been dictated by a plainclothes officer at the police’s temporary HQ on the day. Another officer’s signature was analysed and found not to have been in his handwriting.
The IPCC have been “scoping” the Orgreave matters for almost a year and an announcement is due soon as to how investigations will proceed. At present it appears that because of the time lapse the IPCC will need an extension of powers to investigate. It requires the evidence to constitute an “exceptional case” for the IPCC to call an inquiry. uPSD have formed the strong view that the IPCC, led by Yorkshire & NE Commissioner, Cindy Butts, have no real appetite for putting right a massive injustice. This is underlined by a revelation from the Daily Star’s Jonathan Corke which shows that of the 65 boxes of Orgreave evidence archived by South Yorkshire, the IPCC has so far only accessed 20 of those.
The Orgreave justice team now have their own website.