Sunderland could join councils demanding inquiry into Battle of Orgreave policing during Miners’ Strike

Sunderland City Council could join a band of local authorities calling for a public probe into the infamous clash between striking miners and police at Orgreave.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 1:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th January 2019, 1:23 pm
Sunderland could be set to join the councils calling for an inquiry into policing at the Battle of Orgreave during the Miners' Strike.

Next week, Labour councillors will call on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to hold a probe into the policing of picket lines at the Yorkshire coking plant during the 1984 Miners’ Strike.

The motion will be presented for debate at the authority’s full council meeting on Wednesday, January 30.

The Battle of Orgreave on June 18, 1984, saw police and miners clash on the picket lines outside the Yorkshire coking plant.

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It calls for “meaningful discussions” with the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, the National Union of Mineworkers and MPs on the issue.

If approved, Sunderland City Council will join a group of councils already backing the campaign, including Barnsley, Chesterfield, Salford, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Rotherham, Doncaster, Derby, Durham and more.

The strike was one of the most violent clashes during the period of industrial unrest, with scores of miners charged with riot and violence offences and many injured.

The Battle of Orgreave was one of the most violent clashes during the 1984/5 Miners' Strike.

While all charges were later dropped, campaigners have called for a review of the police tactics used during the strike.

Copt Hill ward councillors Kevin Johnston and Jack Cunningham will launch the motion, and plan to hold a rally outside the council chamber in support.

Coun Johnston said: “Orgreave represents one of the most serious miscarriages of justice in this country’s history.

“Our mining communities deserve the truth as to what conspired that day, and those responsible should be brought to account.”

Coun Kevin Johnston, one of the Sunderland councillors who will launch the motion calling for a public inquiry into Orgreave.

In 2016, the Foreign Secretary at the time, Amber Rudd, ruled out the prospect of an inquiry or review into the clash.

But the campaign has continued, with parades marching last year in Orgreave, between Rotherham and Sheffield, to mark the 34th anniversary of the strike.

Coun Cunningham added: “I know from speaking to residents involved in these clashes that an inquiry is urgently needed.

Police officers pushing against striking miners outside the Orgreave Coking Plant near Rotherham. Their tactics have increasingly come under scrutiny.

“It’s high time that something was done on the matter. In the minds of many, Orgreave symbolises the wider pain and suffering experienced during the strike.”

The full council meeting starts at 6pm at Sunderland Civic Centre.

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The motion to be debated next week reads:

Sunderland City Council believes that issues relating to events at the picketing of Orgreave on 18 June 1984 are of both local and national importance.

In Sunderland, miners and their families were adversely affected by the events of that day in terms of wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, ill-health, family breakdown and termination of employment, and as a direct result of policing tactics at Orgreave.

A full investigation into the military-style policing used on that day is long overdue and only a full public inquiry can fully investigate this.

Sunderland City Council therefore calls on the Home Secretary to order a full public inquiry into the deployment and actions of the police on June 18 1984, and to hold meaningful discussions with the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, The NUM and concerned MPs.

Caption: Councillor Kevin Johnston, one of the Sunderland councillors who will launch the motion

Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporting Service