Labour will continue to push for an independent Orgreave Inquiry, Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed, as figures from across the labour movement react in shock to today’s announcement.
The Labour leader said he was “absolutely astonished” that Home Secretary Amber Rudd had decided against an inquiry after Theresa May had indicated to him that she was moving towards the position. Corbyn said that Labour is committed to holding a “full inquiry”.
“What happened in Orgreave was dreadful,” Corbyn said. “What happened in Orgreave was terrible. What happened in Orgreave damaged the lives of those families who were wrongly accused of things they did not do.”
He was joined by shadow ministers, trade union leaders and local Labour MPs in hitting out at the decision, which has been described as “a bitter blow to those who seek the truth and justice”.
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Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said that the Orgreave “victims and their families have been treated shamefully by this government”, as she accused the Government of ignoring “the need for truth and justice.”
“The campaigners were led to believe only that there was debate on the form of Inquiry, but Amber Rudd and Theresa May have led them up them up the garden path,” she said. “The South Yorkshire Police chief constable is in favour of an inquiry, as are many stakeholders, and of course the campaigners themselves. The current and previous Home Secretaries both indicated that an Inquiry would be granted.
“This is a shameful decision,” she said, adding: “Labour stands with the campaigners and will not rest until there is a full Hillsborough-style Inquiry.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey also branded the announcement as “shameful”, saying that the decision “smacks of a continued cover-up by the establishment.”
He said: “The brutal actions of South Yorkshire police at Orgreave, the subsequent cover-up and the injustice to ordinary working men and women cannot go unanswered. For this stain on the national history to be scrubbed away, the families deserve nothing less that the scrutiny eventually provided to the Hillsborough families.
“Amber Rudd had an opportunity to help to get answers, to back Labour’s commitment to an independent inquiry, instead she has betrayed the hopes of those whose lives have been scarred by Orgreave and slammed the door on the truth. The home secretary will learn the hard way that working class families do not give up on justice this easily. The fight for the truth will go on.”
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said that the message sent out today was “that corruption has a place to hide.”
“Justice has been delayed, but we will not let it be denied,” O’Grady said.
South Yorkshire MPs Louise Haigh and Michael Dugher have also criticised Home Secretary Amber Rudd, labelling the decision “disgraceful” and a “callous betrayal”.
“This is a disgraceful betrayal of justice by the Home Secretary. She has led campaigners up the garden path only to deny justice at the 11th hour,” Haigh said. “The IPCC found evidence of violence by police officers, a false narrative from police exaggerating violence, perjury by officers giving evidence and an apparent cover-up by senior officers.
“That evidence still exists but has never come to light and the decision not even commit to an independent review of evidence. Now evidence which is gathered in the archives of police forces across the country will now not come to light. This amounts to a shameful stitch-up.”
“For the truth to out, all records pertaining to Orgreave from police forces across the country must be released and there must be an independent reviewer to oversee it. The Home Secretary today has put a screeching break on the search for truth.”
Michael Dugher echoed the effect the refusal to hold an inquiry would have on local communities. “The Government’s decision to rule out an inquiry into what happened at Orgreave is a callous betrayal of campaigners and a spit in the face for every former coalfield community.
“Ruling out an inquiry denies truth and justice and it maintains secrecy around the policing of the Miners’ Strike. This is nothing less than a political decision to protect the interests of the Tory Party who presided over this appalling period. The anger about the policing of the Strike is still felt today in the former coalfields,” Dugher warned.