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Thread: 1984 UK miners' strike

  1. #1

    Default 1984 UK miners' strike

    The miners' strike of 1984.

    Truth, justice, lies.

    Miners' strike: senior officer was 'appalled' at conduct of other police

    Letter to Labour MP increases pressure for inquiry into how picketing was handled during the 1980s dispute

    Mark Townsend
    The Observer, Saturday 15 December 2012 20.46 GMT
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    Police and pickets during miner's strike
    Picketing miners and police clash during the 1984 'Battle of Orgreave', a pivotal moment in the dispute. Photograph: Don Mcphee for the Observer

    A senior police officer has broken ranks to describe how he and others were "appalled" at the behaviour of colleagues during the miners' strike as calls mount for a fresh inquiry into the policing of the dispute.

    The former Cleveland Constabulary officer said he was so disillusioned with the behaviour of a number of police towards striking miners that he asked to be excused from attending picket lines during the 1984/85 dispute.

    "I was appalled at the conduct of a number of officers, generally members of the Metropolitan police who we described as the Banana Squad – all bent and yellow," said the officer in a letter to Labour MP Ian Lavery.

    The author, who did not want to be named, said he had been moved to speak out by the Observer's coverage of police tactics during the strike. He said he witnessed "verbal abuse by officers in police vehicles taunting pickets", and that despite making a series of complaints to senior command, not a single internal investigation was launched.

    His comments follow growing pressure for the criminal records of thousands of miners convicted during the dispute to be quashed. Last week calls for the issue to be re-examined surfaced in Wales and Scotland, where justice secretary Kenny MacAskill was asked to review each of the convictions made during the dispute. Lawyers and campaigners claim convictions may be "unsafe" and politically motivated, particularly for picket line offences where miners were threatened with prison sentences but offered less severe punishments if they accepted bail conditions that prohibited them from picketing.

    Mick Antoniw, Assembly Member for Pontypridd, is also pushing for an inquiry, noting that in relation to Orgreave: "No action was taken against the police in respect of fabrication of evidence or the attempt to pervert the course of justice."

    Lavery, a former president of the National Union of Mineworkers and MP for Wansbeck in Northumberland, said: "Ordinary hard-working people were charged with crimes they didn't commit. Somebody needs to be accountable."

    Campaigners want the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate police tactics during the entire strike and are urging the director of public prosecutions to examine evidence of misconduct. The IPCC is already investigating allegations of assault, perjury and misconduct in a public office in relation to the "Battle of Orgreave", the pivotal 1984 clash between police and pickets at the British Steel coking plant in south Yorkshire.

    Vera Baird, police and crime commissioner for the Northumbria area, said her experience as a barrister during the strike suggested that potentially there were hundreds of cases where police might have perverted the course of justice. She herself dealt with two or three cases a week during the strike, many involving "invented allegations, copied notebooks and allegations from officers that weren't even at the scene".

    Baird, solicitor-general during the last Labour government, who represented a number of miners at Orgreave who were acquitted after police tampered with evidence, said: "It was scandalous. There were an awful lot of cases." She said that a consistent problem was the deployment of officers from different forces in mining regions.

    Meanwhile, the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, has been offered the full support of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, with both intent on getting justice over the role of South Yorkshire police in the manipulation of evidence and "fitting up" innocent people.

    Hillsborough campaign organiser Sheila Coleman said that any examination of the policing during the stadium disaster in 1989 would need to include policing tactics and attitude displayed during the miners' strike.

    Coleman said that officers consistently referred to the strike during the inquests into the deaths of 96 football supporters. She said: "Their experience of the miners' strike was used as a positive indicator of their ability to police large crowds."An early day motion asking for the director of public prosecutions to deliver a full comprehensive inquiry into the policing of the miners' strike has so far attracted the support of 39 MPs.
    "It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
    "Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
    "They are in Love. Fuck the War."

    Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

    "Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
    The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war

  2. #2


    We shall see how this plays out...

    Miners' strike: how the bloodiest battle became the 'biggest frame-up'

    Many miners suspect the South Yorkshire police operation at Orgreave in June 1984 was a trap, pre-planned for confrontation, co-ordinated for the courts. Now the IPCC is to probe claims of assault, perjury, perverting the course of justice and misconduct

    David Conn, Thursday 22 November 2012 13.14 GMT

    Miners and police clash at the 'Battle of Orgreave'. The IPCC is looking into claims the conflict was engineered by police for a decisive confrontation. Photograph: Don Mcphee/The Guardian

    For almost 30 years the South Yorkshire police and the then Conservative government's version of the brutal, pivotal confrontation at the Orgreave coking plant has never been officially revised.

    In Margaret Thatcher's description, the coal miners picketing the plant were "the enemy within". The police claimed the miners rioted on 18 June 1984 and that officers who were filmed beating miners with truncheons and charging on horses were only defending themselves. Despite the subsequent collapse in the prosecutions for riot against 95 miners, and South Yorkshire police's £425,000 payout to miners who consequently sued, neither the police nor the then Tory government has admitted any fault.

    Now, following last month's BBC documentary and the Guardian's exposé in April of links between Orgreave and the 1989 Hillsborough disaster – both were policed by the same South Yorkshire force under the same chief constable, Peter Wright– the events at the coking plant are to be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The present-day South Yorkshire police force has referred itself to the IPCC, with the commission explaining that allegations include assault, perjury, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in a public office.

    The National Union of Mineworkers, and Michael Mansfield QC, who defended three of the Orgreave miners accused of riot and now acts for the Hillsborough Family Support group, are calling for the director of public prosecutions (DPP) to investigate in tandem with the IPCC, as is happening with inquiries into South Yorkshire police's alleged misconduct at, and after, Hillsborough.
    'Crush the strike'

    "The miners were defending their livelihoods and communities against the closures of the pits and we believe this was a planned operation to crush the strike," said Chris Kitchen, the NUM's general secretary. "Assault, perjury, perverting the course of justice and misconduct in a public office are all very serious criminal offences so we believe the DPP should stand behind the IPCC investigation."

    Before the Orgreave confrontation, Wright planned to charge miners with riot, a charge which carried a potential life sentence, if police deemed that the circumstances justified it. In a report to his South Yorkshire county council police committee on 25 September 1985, Wright explained the decision was made, and a team of detectives appointed to collate evidence, following police officers' reports throughout May 1984 that miners were picketing violently at Orgreave.

    "Discussions took place involving the chief constable, his senior staff and the county prosecuting solicitor," Wright wrote. "The chief constable decided that the usual charge of disorderly conduct … was inadequate and that where appropriate charges of unlawful assembly and riot should be preferred."

    On 18 June 1984, around 8,000 miners assembled for a mass picket called by the NUM and its then president, Arthur Scargill. South Yorkshire police now claim that 4,500 officers from different forces nationwide were there to police the coking plant.

    Miners have always described their surprise they were not turned away by police that day, as was common during the year-long strike, but allowed to assemble close to the plant, before being ushered into a large field, where police were massed at the bottom. Kitchen, who was present as a 19-year-old striking miner, said it was a trap.

    Bob Bird, a West Midlands officer who served at Orgreave in a short shield police support unit (PSU), told the Guardian he believed the plan was to inflict a significant defeat on the miners: "It would have been easy to turn people away, but the decision was taken to let them in. If you were to choose an area to defend, you would choose that site, and the police were decided: if there was to be a confrontation, we were not going to lose."
    'Continuous barrage'

    The police account, both in the media on the day and during the trial the following year, was that the miners, unprovoked, had attacked police lines with sustained violence, throwing a continuous barrage of stones, and bottles, lengths of wood, metal objects and bricks.

    Mansfield challenged the assertion in court, referring to the police film of the day, which showed miners, many with their shirts off, initially relaxing in the June sunshine. Generally, miners accept that some stones were thrown from the back – there are many accounts that senior miners told those throwing stones to stop. When the lorries carrying coke to British Steel at Scunthorpe left the plant the miners pushed at police lines, as was routine on picket lines. However, the police lines suddenly split, horses charged through, and the PSUs released.

    One miner, Russell Broomhead, was filmed on television being beaten by a policeman just in front of the police lines.

    "I was knocked over by a horse," recalls Broomhead, now 55, who worked at Houghton Main colliery near Barnsley. "Then a short shield policeman hit me, and as I was getting up, the next one attacked me. The police were out of control, and nobody has ever been held to account for what they did."

    Suffering physical injuries and psychological trauma, Broomhead was arrested and charged with riot; he was to be tried in the second batch of the 95 prosecuted miners, until he was acquitted when the first trial of 15 collapsed.

    One of those 15, Stefan Wysocki, now 62, was arrested for allegedly throwing a stone, which he always denied. He says he was punched and kicked as he was led through the ranks of police officers after his arrest. Another, Arthur Critchlow, said he was hit over the head with a truncheon while attending to an elderly man on the ground. The officers who arrested Critchlow claimed he had been running backwards, tripped on the kerb and hit his head. Another charged miner, David Bell, sustained a broken leg. Bill Greenaway had his wrist fractured after, he claimed, it was hit with a truncheon.

    Wysocki, held in a Rotherham police cell, was told late that night he was to be charged with riot.

    "I still cannot explain how that felt," he said. "It was unbelievable, that it was happening in this country. It was extremely stressful. But we believed we were going to prison, because they wanted to make an example of us."

    At the trial, the miners were alleged in very similar terms to have been clearly identified as throwing stones at the police. In each case two police officers had made a statement, and testified in court, that they had witnessed the incident and made the arrest.
    Police statements

    Copies of police statements obtained by the BBC for last month's Inside Out documentary reveal that dozens contained identical descriptions of a riot. And the statements of the two officers relating to each individual miner are almost word for word the same.

    Wright told his police committee that several officers had parts of their statements dictated by South Yorkshire detectives at the scene. However, he said the detectives only "assisted" with "local knowledge and detail" and that "there was nothing sinister in this procedure. Evidence had to be collated."

    Bob Bird,a West Midlands officer, and Norman Taylor, a Northumbria officer also on duty that day, have confirmed that they do not recall large parts of their statements being dictated. Bird said the two arresting officers handwrote their statements quickly, about the individual arrest, with little preamble. At that time, he and other officers told the Guardian, it was common practice to compare notes and make statements together.

    South Yorkshire police then typed the handwritten statements up centrally. It was at that stage, Bird concluded, that they must have incorporated the very similar general introduction, describing the violence by miners. Bird's statement, identical to that of his fellow arresting officer, included the phrases: "A continuous stream of missiles came from the pickets"; "there were broken bottles, bits of masonry and telegraph wire strewn across the road."

    Bird said he never saw or signed his typed statement – the miner that he arrested was not in the first batch of 15 prosecutions. He said he did not believe it was improper for such a general description to be written into the officers' statements centrally by South Yorkshire police, if the description was accurate. Although he questioned the wider political conflict between the miners and the government into which he believed the police were drawn, Bird said that miners were throwing stones that day, that "it was an unlawful assembly," and that he stood by the arrest that he made. It was, however, the decision of South Yorkshire police to decide on charges of riot.

    The prosecution fell apart after 48 days of police evidence, challenged by Mansfield and other defence barristers. Some officers' oral evidence differed from their written statements. The defence had collated photographs from many sources, and used it to argue that officers' evidence was inaccurate, and that several who claimed to have arrested men had not even been at the scene.

    One officer who had apparently signed the statement of his fellow officer was challenged by barrister Vera Baird (later a QC and Labour minister) that it was not his handwriting. Baird requested a handwriting expert to analyse the statement – over lunch, it went missing. A copy was analysed by a Home Office expert who concluded the signature had not been written by the same officer.

    All 15 miners were acquitted on 17 July 1985, when the prosecution offered no further evidence. Mansfield called it "the biggest frame-up ever". The South Yorkshire police committee were concerned that, at the very least, the allegations of a forged signature and dictated statements "amounted to inaccurate perjured evidence". However, Chief Constable Wright insisted the police action was justified.

    The miners sued for assault, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution, and in June 1991, South Yorkshire police paid £425,000 in damages. The settlement was reached before the discovery stage, at which internal police documents would have been disclosed. South Yorkshire police has never admitted liability, no investigation was ever announced with not one officer disciplined for any offence.

    Ian Lavery, Labour MP for Wansbeck and a former NUM president, argues the IPCC investigation should consider the policing of the miners' strike more widely. "The general perception all these years has been that miners attacked the police. In fact, terrible wrongs were done for which nobody has been held to account. There is still huge resentment within former mining communities. We need the truth about what happened, not just at Orgreave."

    In a statement, South Yorkshire police said it had "demonstrated openness and transparency" in referring the Orgreave events for investigation, almost 30 years after the bloodiest day in the miners' strike.

    The IPCC said it "must now assess the information … to determine how the matter should be dealt with".
    "It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
    "Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
    "They are in Love. Fuck the War."

    Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

    "Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
    The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war

  3. #3

    Default The Conviction of Miners and others during the 1984/85 Miner’s Strike


    In light of recent revelations that South Yorkshire Police fabricated and duplicated statements in relation to Hillsborough and Orgreave, David Hamilton MP and I have written to Lothian and Borders Police and justice Minister Kenny McAskill asking for a full and independent review of all cases of Miners arrested in Scotland during the strike. I would urge as many people as possible add their voice to this campaign.
    We need to make sure there are no unsafe convictions or miscarriages of justice in Scotland.
    For more information read the Scotsman article – Plea for Kenny McAskill to wipe slate clean for striking miners
    If anyone knows people who were arrested and charged on fabricated evidence please get in touch with me
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  4. #4

    Default Orgreave: operational orders 'were wrong' - former officer

    Orgreave: operational orders 'were wrong' - former officer - 12 SEPTEMBER 2016 -

    A former police officer involved in the Orgreave clashes during the miners' strike says he was ordered to carry out instructions he believed were wrong, but he refused to go along with them.

    Mike Freeman tells the same story on and off camera. He never goes further. He never embellishes. He never holds back. Every time we have discussed his story it is always the same. He is certain of what he wants to say.

    After decades in the Greater Manchester Police, he rose to become a detective superintendent in the Police Standards Department, and is now retired.
    As a young PC back in 1984, he was gaining experience at the sharp end. The Moss Side riots in Manchester had come and gone and he was there. He'd just passed his exams for sergeant. He was on his way up. With a degree in politics, he was a vocation-police officer - keen to make a difference.

    Then, in June 1984 came the briefing. Mass picketing outside the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire had been growing. The masterplan of Arthur Scargill's National Union of Mineworkers was to shut down this plant and thus shut the blast furnaces to the east, at Scunthorpe steelworks, which were fuelled by Orgreave.

    Greater Manchester Police were to be bussed in to Orgreave to confront and stop the hundreds of miners converging on the place. Indeed police forces from all over the country wee being called in to thwart the NUM's tactics.

    He says the operational briefing was something he had never heard of: a bizarre ticketing system whereby South Yorkshire Police officers would write statements even if they had not arrested the pickets themselves. That ran against the fundamentals of policing: the arresting officer makes the arrest statement concerning the prisoner, and nobody else.

    Mike Freeman says he simply refused to go along with this. He had never encountered it before or since. Many of his colleagues felt the same way.
    'I knew in my own mind that was wrong'

    "What sticks in my mind is the briefing we were given, passed down through our public order command chains - and that was, particularly on that day, that if you arrest a prisoner you will take that prisoner back to a prisoner reception area, you will be given a reference number, you will return to the (police) lines.

    "And at the end of the operation, you will return to the prisoner reception area, where there will be a statement ready for you to sign. I knew in my own mind that was wrong, and I can clearly remember saying to colleagues that I was with that day, 'I will not be making an arrest on that operation', and I didn't."

    The significance is that, if this was indeed the South Yorkshire Police plan, it would have been handed down from senior officers in the force.
    When he and his mates got to Orgreave they could see the South Yorkshire officers ready for this arrangement and not in riot gear. "There were no South Yorkshire officers, from my recollection, on those (police) lines that day. When we arrived, I distinctly remember that the South Yorkshire officers were wearing flat caps with orange head bands, and they were called logistics."

    Today Greater Manchester Police declined to comment. South Yorkshire Police said: "The Hillsborough Inquests brought into sharp focus the need to understand and confront the past and give people the opportunity to explore the circumstances of such significant events.

    "South Yorkshire Police would welcome an appropriate independent assessment of Orgreave, accepting that the way in which this is delivered is a matter for the Home Secretary."

    Last year the Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded there should be a full inquiry into South Yorkshire Police's actions at Orgreave. The campaign for one is gathering pace with a meeting with Home Secretary Amber Rudd in London tomorrow.
    'The miners’ strike broke a lot of families'

    Mike Freeman sympathises. "The miners' strike broke a lot of families and I think there's possibly a good case for a public inquiry because people need closure. I'm prepared to speak out about the briefing because I found policing that strike particularly difficult because of my own political views. I'm now a local Labour councillor."

    Senior officers in charge of Orgreave were also involved in the Hillsborough disaster a few years later in Sheffield. The force is currently under investigation after allegations of widespread tampering of evidence and police statements following that event.
    After Orgreave, 95 miners faced riot charges which in those days could have carried a sentence of life imprisonment. All charges were dropped and the trials collapsed because of lack of evidence. A number of miners then successfully took action, suing South Yorkshire Police for wrongful arrest.
    But there has never been any formal inquiry into Orgreave and no police officer has ever faced any sanction for what happened there on the 18th of June 1984.
    Alex Thomson, Channel 4 News, Politics, UK
    Battle of Orgreave: Inquiry decision due 'in October' - 13 September 2016

    Campaigners calling for a public inquiry into the 1984 Battle of Orgreave disorder have been told a decision will be made by the end of October.

    Thousands of miners and police clashed at the South Yorkshire coking site.

    Campaigners met with Home Secretary Amber Rudd to renew calls for a probe into police handling of the event.

    It comes after an ex-PC told Channel 4 officers were told to write statements for arrests they had not made.

    He said: "I knew in my own mind that was wrong."

    A delegation from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC), which met with the Home Secretary, said they were feeling "positive" after the meeting.
    The so-called Battle of Orgreave saw miners attempt to stop lorry loads of coke leaving for the steel works, with police holding them back.

    About 6,000 officers are alleged to have used excessive force to suppress the miners' strike at the plant.

    What was the 'Battle of Orgreave'?
    Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham, who was also in attendance, said it was an "encouraging meeting" and he hopes a decision will be made to "shine a spotlight on our country's past".

    Former miner Kevin Horne said: "I think we have reached another milestone. There's still a way to go, but we're getting there."
    Earlier, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and other MPs gathered for a demonstration outside Parliament to lend their support.

    Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner, who was at Orgreave, said: "The police at Orgreave were called upon to write the same thing over and over again about every single miner they arrested."

    A total of 95 miners were charged following the clashes but their trial collapsed.

    [SIZE=1]Martin Luther King - "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
    Albert Camus - "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion".
    Douglas MacArthur — "Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons."
    Albert Camus - "Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear."[/SIZE]

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