Sarah Champion MP calls for Home Secretary to grant public inquiry into Orgreave
This week, I went with campaigners from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, to meet with the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd. The campaign is calling for a public inquiry into events at the Orgreave Coking Works at the height of the Miners Strike. The actions of South Yorkshire Police on 18th June 1984 and in the aftermath have been questioned for over 30 years. I believe it is vital that the Home Secretary grants the OTJC's request and commissions a full public inquiry into Orgreave.
Whilst we may be 30 years removed from the events of Orgreave, they continue to cast a long shadow over those who were present and the wider community. Orgreave is in my constituency and I have met many who were there in 1984. For them, time has not healed the wounds they suffered that day.
This is not about clearing the names of the pickets. That was done when the related trials collapsed, amidst claims of fabricated evidence and a widespread conspiracy on the part of South Yorkshire Police to conceal the truth. But they have carried the smears levelled against them since that day and it continues to hang over them even now.
Even those born many years after Orgreave continue to feel its impact. For some in coalfield communities, there is still a deep and abiding mistrust of the police. This perception is not fair on the current serving officers and is harmful, reduceing the likelihood of people coming forward to report crime. The people of South Yorkshire deserve to know the truth about their police force so they can move on. South Yorkshire Police has been the subject of widespread criticism following the verdicts of the Hillsborough Inquests and the revelations of repeated failures to tackle child sexual exploitation. I do not believe that trust and public confidence in the force can be restored until the public finally know what really happened at Orgreave.
It is thanks to the tireless work of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign that we have reached this point. Their determination in the face of adversity, ignorance and dismissal by successive governments has led us to the point where we may finally close the chapter on this dreadful part of our history. I have seen the evidence. It is not possible to argue that there is not a case to answer, or that it can be satisfactorily addressed by anything other than a full public inquiry.
The Home Secretary has seen the evidence too. It is now up to her to do the right thing and to agree to the inquiry.
We have waited long enough for the truth.