Files held by the government relating to the Battle of Orgreave – a bloody confrontation between striking miners and the police on June 18th 1984 – may be released next year.
Home secretary Amber Rudd said that 30 government files connected to Orgreave are due to be released to the National Archive. The title of at least one file suggests it concerns some of the most violent and controversial incidents of that day. A further three files are under consideration for release.
The Battle of Ogreave was one of the most infamous events of the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike, a year-long dispute between the government and the National Union of Mineworkers over pit closures. On June 18th, thousands of miners from across the country, including many from County Durham and the north east, gathered for a mass picket of a coking plant in Orgreave, near Sheffield.
The picket turned violent and there were many accusations of police brutality, with mounted baton-wielding offices charging into crowds of unarmed protesters. 95 miners were later charged with riot and violent disorder, but the cases collapsed in court and South Yorkshire Police were forced to pay compensation to those accused.
Many suspect the full story of what went on at Orgreave has never come to light. Labour MP Evette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said,
“The committee wants to establish what information on Orgreave the government and police still have that has never been published.”
“The home secretary’s agreement to make public 30 further files on Orgreave is welcome.”
“We are seeking further information and I have now written to a further 18 police forces involved in policing the incident to ask what related written information they hold which is not in the public domain.”
“I have specifically asked the Metropolitan Police whether they hold the operational policing plan for Orgreave.”
Amber Rudd said, “We intend to transfer all 30 of the remaining Home Office files to the National Archive. The files should be publically available in the first half of 2017.”
Ms Rudd’s announcement has been welcomed by those seeking to establish exactly what happened at Orgreave over 30 years ago. Barbara Jackson, the secretary of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, said, “We are very, very pleased. This is really good news.”
“It shows that there is loads of information out there that has not been gathered into the National Archives.”
Ms Rudd was strongly criticised when, earlier this year, she decided that there should not be an official enquiry into Orgreave. The Durham Miners’ Association commented, “South Yorkshire Police have got to be brought to account. The actions of the police that day were disgraceful.”