Jeremy Corbyn has signed a cross-party letter to Home Secretary Theresa May demanding an inquiry into the actions of police officers at Orgreave during the miners’ strike.
The letter calls for an investigation into allegations of police brutality at the coking plant in South Yorkshire, during the 1984-85 strike. It says that the inquiry must look into “how and whether police forces – ostensibly there to serve their communities – were used against one”.
Around 70 Labour MPs have put their name to the statement, as have the SNP’s parliamentary group leader Angus Robertson, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, and Sir Peter Bottomley, who was Conservative Employment Minister at the time of the strike. The letter was drafted with the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, and was circulated by Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham, Shadow Trade Unions minister Ian Lavery and South Yorkshire MP Louise Haigh.
It is not an exhaustive list of support for an inquiry within Parliament, but does reveal the cross-party backing for the move. The signatories say that recent events make the case for an inquiry into Orgreave “overwhelming”, following the findings at Hillsborough, the statement by South Yorkshire Police’s interim Chief Constable and the now-released documents by the IPCC that make explicit the links between Hillsborough and Orgreave.
There is a legal submission from Michael Mansfield and the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign which is currently being considering by Theresa May, but no decision has yet been made.
You can read the full letter with list of signatories below:
We the undersigned believe that the developments of recent weeks make the case for a public inquiry into the events at and surrounding Orgreave overwhelming.
Firstly as you know, the Hillsborough Inquests after twenty seven years of injustice exonerated fans delivering highly significant rulings which built on the vital work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel which found that in the aftermath of the 1989 disaster South Yorkshire Police had altered hundreds of statements with the intention of ‘deflecting blame’.
Secondly, media reports unmasked the previously redacted sections of the IPCC report from June 2015 into the events surrounding Orgreave which revealed striking similarities between the personnel and alleged practices of South Yorkshire Police at Orgreave and at Hillsborough. Similarities which we found to be chilling and which, in our view, render the need for truth utterly essentially.
As you know, trust will never truly be restored until we find out the entire truth about Orgreave which involved multiple police forces and multiple mining communities and the wider policing of the miners’ strike.
Thirdly, the public statement made by the interim Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police on Thursday 5th May was a hugely significant intervention. He said:
“The Hillsborough Inquests have brought into sharp focus the need to confront the past. I would therefore welcome an independent assessment of Orgreave, accepting that the way in which this is delivered is a matter for the Home Secretary”.
We therefore urge you to seize the opportunity to build bridges between the police and those still troubled by how and whether police forces – ostensibly there to serve their community – were used against one.
These are questions which serve as an open wound which have not healed to this day and the cloud of past wrongdoing and alleged wrongdoing continues to cause harm. We believe the work of police officers is utterly essential and a credit to our country but difficult truths, however unpalatable, must be confronted head on and ensuring that justice is done and seen to be done is as important now as it was three decades ago.
Thank you for the substantial personal contribution you have made to the search for justice for the families of Hillsborough. We sincerely hope you will now decide that it is time we got to the bottom of the events of that decade which still scar communities throughout South Yorkshire and around the country.
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party
Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Home Secretary
Angus Robertson, Leader of the Scottish National Party
Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Nick Clegg, former Deputy Prime Minister
Caroline Lucas, Green Party
Sir Peter Bottomley, Conservative Employment Minister during the miners’ strike
Merseyside MPs: Angela Eagle, Steve Rotheram, Alison McGovern, Stephen Twigg, Louise Ellman, Bill Esterton, Peter Dowd