Friday 11 November 2016

Amber Rudd didn't even bother looking at the evidence before refusing the Orgreave inquiry

On the 18th of June 1984 police launched an unprovoked mounted charge against striking miners at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire. The so-called "Battle of Orgreave" has been mired in conspiracy ever since.

The inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster highlighted the fact that several police officials who had been involved in the Hillsborough cover-up had also been involved at Orgreave. This revelation hardly seems surprising given that the two incidents both included acts of mass perjury by police officers, deliberate victim-blaming, attempted cover-ups, interference by the Tory government and mainstream media collusion.

Orgreave provided one of the most famous examples of mainstream media manipulation in British political history. The BBC News footage broadcast into millions of homes that night reversed the events of the day to show striking miners throwing stones at the police followed by the mounted police charge. The evidence is absolutely clear that the mounted charge came first and was unprovoked, then the stone-throwing came afterwards as an attempted fightback against extreme and unprovoked police violence. However despite the repeated revelations that the BBC News team had reversed the events of the day in order to paint miners in a negative light, just like with Hillsborough, there are still people out there to this day who insist on believing the mainstream media's distorted victim-blaming version of events.

A former Merseyside police officer who had been drafted in at Orgreave claimed that South Yorkshire police had been "anticipating trouble and in some ways relishing it and looking forward to it" and that when the violence erupted "I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was just seeing police officers attack people. These were people on the ground and even if they weren't doing anything – just walking away – police officers had their batons and they were just hitting people".

Despite having instigated the violence themselves, the police then attempted to prosecute 95 miners for rioting and violent disorder, but the trial collapsed when it became clear that much of the evidence presented by police was fabricated.

At the time Michael Mansfield QC called the malicious attempted prosecution "the worst example of a mass frame-up in this country this century", while the miners' solicitor Gareth Peirce claimed collusion between the objectives of the police and Thatcher's government by saying the malicious prosecution had been launched in order to "to make a public example of people, as a device to assist in breaking the [miners'] strike".

In June 1991 South Yorkshire Police paid £425,000 in compensation to 39 miners for assault, wrongful arrest, unlawful detention and malicious prosecution. No police officers were ever prosecuted for any of these offences.

In 2015 a review of court papers from the malicious trial of Orgreave miners by the Independent Police Complaints Commission found "evidence of excessive violence by police officers, a false narrative from police exaggerating violence by miners, perjury by officers giving evidence to prosecute the arrested men, and an apparent cover-up of that perjury by senior officers".

In May 2016 the PCC for South Yorkshire Alan Billings admitted that police conduct at Orgreave had led to a longstanding high level public mistrust towards the police in the region and claimed that the battle was the closest the UK had ever come to having "a politicised police force" acting as a paramilitary wing of the government.

It was then revealed that Margaret Thatcher and her Tory cabinet had attempted to intervene in the malicious Orgreave prosecutions in order to speed them up despite Thatcher's own assurances lies to parliament that "it would be quite wrong for politicians to interfere in such matters".

Despite ever mounting pressure for an inquiry into Orgreave (especially the fabricated evidence during the malicious prosecution, the attempted cover-up and the links with the Hillsborough disaster), Theresa May managed to stall it until she was anointed Prime Minister by her fellow Tory MPs, leaving the job of refusing to hold an inquiry to her successor Amber Rudd.

Rudd's refusal of an inquiry led Labour MP and Shadow Lord Chancellor Richard Burgon to claim that "the Conservative refusal of an Orgreave Inquiry is not about protecting the police of the past - it's about concealing orders and interference from the Thatcher Government".

In the week following Amber Rudd's refusal to hold an inquiry into Orgreave the Guardian revealed that she hadn't even bothered to review the evidence collected by the IPCC, nor the evidence held by South Yorkshire Police. The Home Office then flatly refused to detail what evidence Rudd had actually reviewed (if any) before making her decision to torpedo the expected inquiry.

It's absolutely extraordinary that Rudd could have decided that there was no grounds for an inquiry without even bothering to request or review two fundamental tranches of evidence. In fact it looks an awful lot like vindication of Richard Burgon's accusation that the Tories are still playing self-serving party politics.

The released cabinet papers have already demonstrated that Margaret Thatcher was intent on playing politics with the justice system by pressurising those who were conducting the malicious Orgreave prosecution to hurry it up, and now Amber Rudd is demonstrating that even after 32 years the Tories are still intent on playing party politics with the justice system by refusing to hold an inquiry into the undeniably appalling and unlawful police conduct at Orgreave.

What you can do ...

If you believe that Amber Rudd's decision to refuse an inquiry is completely unacceptable then please consider signing this petition.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.