Sarah Champion MP challenges Home Secretary over failure to answer the Orgreave families and calls for parity in inquests

Sarah Champion MP, Member of Parliament for Rotherham, has today challenged the Home Secretary for failing to answer a request for an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave. 32 years ago on Saturday, the Battle of Orgreave saw unprecedented conflict erupt between police and pickets at the Orgreave coking works in Sarah's constituency of Rotherham.

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign allege that the violence that erupted was a result of the actions of the police and what followed was a concerted attempt by South Yorkshire Police to cover up the truth and to pervert the course of justice. Six months ago, the Campaign submitted a report to the Home Secretary calling for an inquiry.

Sarah has urged the Home Secretary to give the families of the Battle of Orgreave the opportunity to have their voices heard and establish the truth once and for all.

During Home Office questions, Sarah said:

For the police to be effective they need to be trusted by the community they serve. Truth is built by being honest about the past. Will the Home Secretary finally do the right thing and grant the request of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign for a full inquiry on what exactly happened on the 18th June 32 years ago in the Battle of Orgreave?

Unfortunately, the Minister of State for Justice, responding for the Government, failed to answer the question.

Commenting on the need for an inquiry, Sarah said:

The Orgreave families have now been waiting 32 years for the truth. This is too long; justice must be served. I have written to the Home Secretary supporting the campaign's request. Yet she continues to force the families to wait.

Calls for an inquiry have grown following the verdicts of the Hillsborough inquests. Speaking in support of reforms that will support victims to achieve truth and justice in future inquests, Sarah said:

For victims fighting for truth and justice, it is essential that Labour's amendments to the Police and Crime Bill are accepted. Labour is asking for parity of funding for legal representation of families and institutions of the state. There is currently an uneven playing field in inquests, where public bodies are using tax payers' money to hire top lawyers to protect themselves. Individuals and families do not have the same access to public funds.

NewsVanessa Johns