Anne McTaggart MSP has blasted the Justice Minister’s refusal to review the criminal records of the 500 men convicted during the miner’s strike, and has called on the Scottish Government and Police to look again at the cases.
Ms McTaggart was speaking in the members debate brought forward by Neil Findlay MSP.
Following the South Yorkshire police post-Hillsborough cover up, there is now an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into a similar attempted cover-up by the same Police authority at the Orgreave coking plant clashes. It is known that 164 statements were altered either to remove or change negative comments about policing on the day that 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives in April 1989.
Five years earlier at Orgreave, 8,000 picketing miners and 4,500 police clashed at a British Steel Coking Plant. £500,000 in compensation was paid to 95 miners who were arrested during these clashes but no officer has ever been disciplined in relation to the events.
(Provisional) Estimates by the National Union of Mineworkers suggest that 60% of the charges brought over picket line offences were “bogus or exaggerated.” NUM leader Chris Kitchen went on to say that “it is important to look beyond Hillsborough and Orgreave.”
Anne McTaggart MSP said: “The possibility that these practices took place during the miners’ strikes in Midlothian and across Scotland – and I know that Neil Findlay has received information that this is the case – surely means that on the Scottish Government and Police have a duty to look again at the cases of the 500 men convicted during the miners’ strike.
“The Justice Minister’s refusal to review the criminal records of these men is very disappointing. After 28 years, these men deserve justice and I call on Kenny Macaskill to launch a full, comprehensive and independent review of all of the convictions brought against those involved in the disputes.”
McTaggart also added that proper scrutiny of policing operations must always take place, particularly with the introduction of the single police force.
Ms McTaggart said: “With the creation of the new national police service Police Scotland, it is as important now as it has ever been that we have proper scrutiny of policing operations. Whilst in Scotland we have not had the same scandals as the police service in England, the experience of picketers in Scotland during the miners’ strikes shows us that we mustn’t be complacent when it comes to the scrutiny of our police.”