2. Renewed investigations into ‘malpractice’ – too late?

One reader’s verdict 2014 on the privatisation of the mining and other industries, “a greedy self serving elite that control the money, legislation and media”, overlooked the vigorous support given to the state by the police, drafted in from other areas so that they would not sympathise with the striking miners.

miners strikepolice2At the time the government depicted the conflict as one between miners and the National Coal Board, with the state neutral, simply enforcing the law, but Michael Mansfield QC and the Merseyside MP and shadow cabinet minister Maria Eagle believe that South Yorkshire police’s conduct at Orgreave revealed a culture of malpractice with impunity that had not been remedied by the time the same force policed the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

Fresh claims have been made on the website of the Campaign for Press & Broadcasting Freedom about government manipulation of the BBC’s coverage of the 1984-5 miners’ strike. It is now alleged that specific instructions were issued from the “highest level of government” to ensure that the BBC’s camera crews focused on the miners’ violence and not on “the police smashing heads”.  The allegation has been made by the former Daily Mirror industrial editor Geoffrey Goodman, who died in June this year. (Above from John Harris: Miners Strike photo essay)

South Yorkshire police brought failed prosecutions against miners, but in June 1991, with little national media coverage, 39 miners were paid £425,000 by this police force to settle their civil actions, when it was found that evidence had been fabricated.

A senior police officer has broken ranks to describe how he and others were “appalled” at the behaviour of colleagues during the miners’ strike as calls mount for a fresh inquiry into the policing of the dispute. He said he witnessed “verbal abuse by officers in police vehicles taunting pickets”, and some alleged that once again plain clothes police infiltrated the protesting miners and tried to provoke aggression. But despite making a series of complaints to senior command, no internal investigation was launched.

There was a parallel with the Hillsborough disaster, “where they [police] could set the agenda and nobody of any importance would challenge it”

Vera Baird, now police and crime commissioner for the Northumbria area, said her experience as a barrister during the strike suggested that there were hundreds of cases where police might have perverted the course of justice. She herself dealt with two or three cases a week during the strike, many involving “invented allegations, copied notebooks and allegations from officers that weren’t even at the scene”. Sheffield barrister Mark George QC explained that he had examined about 100 of the police statements obtained by the BBC. They reveal that several dozen contain exactly the same phrases, signifying “widespread collusion.”

Last year MPs, including John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw, called for an inquiry into alleged manipulation of evidence by South Yorkshire Police during the 1984 miners’ strike. In December 2012  nine MPs at Westminster signed a Commons Early Day motion calling on the Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales to hold an inquiry into the policing of the 1984 miners’ strike.

The Guardian pointed out a year ago that 1984 Orgreave and the 1989 Hillsborough disaster– both were policed by the same South Yorkshire force under the same chief constable, the late Peter Wright. The events at the coking plant are now being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission

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Posted on January 5, 2014, in Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Democracy undermined, Government, Lobbying, Media, Parliamentary failure, Planning, Secret State, Vested interests and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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