Home secretary Amber Rudd plans to release documents relating to 1984 clashes between police and striking miners
Home Office files concerning events at the “battle of Orgreave” are due to be released next year among a cache of records relating to the 1984 miners’ strike.
The home secretary, Amber Rudd, told the home affairs select committee the documents would be among 30 files planned for release to the National Archives.
The subject titles suggest at least one file relates to the clash between police and strikers in South Yorkshire that became one of the bloodiest events of the dispute. A further three files are said to be under consideration for release by the Home Office.
Rudd said in a letter to the committee: “We intend to transfer all 30 of the remaining Home Office files to the National Archives, and are working to complete this as quickly as possible. The files should be publicly available at the National Archives in the first half of 2017.”
Vera Baird, police and crime commissioner of Northumbria police and a former Labour MP for Redcar, who acted for miners when she was a barrister, previously said she was concerned that the Home Office was still holding the files in light of Rudd’s decision.
Police deployed horseback charges and baton-wielding “snatch squads” at Orgreave as 6,000 officers from around the country attempted to prevent striking miners from blocking deliveries at a coking plant.
Ninety-five people were charged with riot and violent disorder, but the cases collapsed and South Yorkshire police were later required to pay compensation.
Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the home affairs select committee, told the BBC: “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.”
On Sunday Andy Burnham said the expected release of the documents had been a direct result of Cooper’s work pressing the government for disclosure.
“I can’t see how any government can deny people the truth about what happened,” he told Sky News’s Murnaghan show. “As I have repeatedly said, we won’t have the full truth about Hillsborough until we also know what happened five years earlier, after Orgreave.
“In my view the same police force used the same tactics to try to blame the miners, in the same way it would try to blame the Liverpool supporters.”
Asked whether there should be a public inquiry, he added: “I think it’s got to be. We need to see what these files reveal, and if they reveal evidence of wrongdoing, both in the police force and possibly in the government of the day, then that will need to be looked at further.”