These events are too serious to let them lie
The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) are expecting an announcement about Orgreave any day now from the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd.
OTJC Secretary Barbara Jackson said “We trust that Amber Rudd will announce the only right decision, namely that there must be an inquiry into what happened at Orgreave and after it. These events are too serious to let them lie. However we have real concerns about what sort of inquiry the Home Secretary will establish: history is littered with examples of inquiries that have disappointed, such as the “establishment led” Stuart Smith Scrutiny into Hillsborough, which completely failed to get to the truth, and we are keen to ensure that the Home Secretary does not make similar mistakes over Orgreave”.
These are the key elements of an Orgreave inquiry that we have told the Home Secretary are necessary to make it effective.
- The inquiry must have the power to require all the relevant information and evidence to be produced to it
- The Hillsborough inquests have raised real questions about whether there was a culture within South Yorkshire Police in the 1980’s of manipulating and suppressing evidence.
- Uncovering the truth about Orgreave by definition requires that all possible relevant evidence be obtained and so we believe the inquiry must have the power to compel all relevant organisations and people to turn over what information and evidence they have.
- Those who have an interest in the inquiry must be able to fully participate in order to lend their experience, knowledge and understanding to the process
- We as the group who has lobbied for this inquiry, should be able to input into the terms of reference and membership of the inquiry.
- The inquiry must hear first hand from the miners: their testimony was never heard at the criminal trials as they collapsed before the defence case; and they never gave their accounts in any civil trials as South Yorkshire Police settled the claims before trials.
- The officers at Orgreave must also be given the space to speak, in particular about the manner in which police evidence was recorded, as many officers did at the Hillsborough inquests.
- The tribunal conducting the investigation must include a range of skills, not just legal ones, so that people can have confidence it will fully understand the issues, and be independent and objective in its approach
- We believe that the Hillsborough Independent Panel was so effective and reached such robust conclusions, later affirmed by the inquest jury, because its membership was drawn from a range of disciplines: it included the Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, the journalist and broadcaster Peter Sissons, the criminologist Phil Scraton, a medical consultant, a retired police officer, two experts on document archiving and a television producer.
- A similar diversity of experience and expertise is essential if the truth about Orgreave is to be established
- The inquiry must be transparent, open and accessible and its conclusions publicly explained
- An inquiry conducted behind closed doors will not instil confidence: it is important that those involved at Orgreave and the wider public are able to see the process taking place and read the evidence obtained.
- In addition, a panel which simply gathers the evidence will not suffice: rather it must have the power to provide a critical analysis of the evidence and a detailed report of the sort produced by the Hillsborough Independent Panel.
- We do not demand an expensive, overly long inquiry.
- The IPCC has already carried out two years of investigation into the Orgreave case and full transcripts of the Orgreave criminal trials already exist.
- Both of these factors would give an inquiry a substantial “head start” in terms of the gathering and understanding the evidence, leading to a substantial saving of time and cost.
- We believe that properly constructed, including the elements set out above, an Orgreave inquiry can deliver justice.