The Government has been accused of sidestepping questions about delays into a possible inquiry into the actions of police during the infamous ‘Battle of Orgreave’.
For two years the Independent Police Complaints Commission has been investigating whether officers accused of fitting up striking miners on riot charges, including two from the North East, had a case to answer.
Blaydon MP Dave Anderson, a miner at the time who was at the South Yorkshire coking plant that day in June, 1984, submitted two questions to Home Secretary Theresa May about the matter.
He asked if she would find out when the IPCC would make its decision and what her department knew about the reasons for the delay.
In the Government’s reply, the Home Office said the IPCC had completed its assessment of the events at Orgreave and was taking legal advice before publishing its findings.
In the written reply, signed by Minister Mike Penning, he wrote:
“This has been a very complex exercise which has required the in-depth analysis of a vast amount of documentation from over 30 years ago. As the IPCC is an independent organisation the Government has no control or influence over the date of publication of its findings.”
Mr Anderson commented:
“The government should put “the vast amount of paperwork” in the public domain so that people and Parliament can see if they were misled.
“She sidesteps the second question about exactly what information she has and puts the onus onto an Independent body. Has the IPCC seen all of the paperwork that has not been released and if not why not?”
Orgreave was the scene of some of the bitterest clashes during the year long miners strike of 1984 to 1985.
In all 95 miners were arrested and charged with riot following it, an offence which carries a maximum life sentence.
All the charges were eventually dropped and 39 miners were later awarded £425,000 in compensation amid claims police witnesses gave evidence that had been dictated to them by senior officers as well as perjuring themselves.
It was in 2012 after a TV documentary repeated these allegations in light of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report that the head of South Yorkshire Police referred his own force to the IPCC.
It was South Yorkshire Police which was in control of the crowds at the 1989 FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest where 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death.
It was revealed officers had fabricated evidence – including having statements dictated to them by senior officers – in an attempt to blame the tragedy on the Liverpool fans, the same tactics used against miners at Orgreave five years earlier.
Mr Anderson added:
“(David) Cameron said Sunshine is the best policy. Well come on then, shine a light on this disgraceful chapter in our nation’s history.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 24 Jan 2015
A council meeting descended into chaos last night when two members of the public began filming inside Middlesbrough Town Hall.
The meeting was halted just minutes after the new chairman was agreed as Cllr Bob Kerr.
Made aware of the filming taking place, he asked the men to cease filming.
When the men refused to put down the cameras and stop filming, two police officers entered the council chamber to speak to the men.
The chairman then suspended the meeting and left the chamber.
After several minutes he returned to ask everyone to evacuate the building and congregate in the quadrangle outside.
After a 30 minute delay, councillors, the media and members of the public – except the men with cameras who were prevented from re-entering the building by the police – returned and the meeting resumed.
Beechwood ward Cllr Joan McTigue said: “It is a public meeting and councillors themselves tweet away to people outside – what is being said and by whom etc. Therefore I see no problem with it being filmed and put into the public domain.”
Last June Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles published a guide which states councils should allow the public to film, blog and tweet council meetings.
But the chairman said: “According to 25.2 of the Constitution no photography or filming can take place. The chair has the authority according to the Constitution of asking and if necessary forcing anyone doing so to leave.”
When the meeting resumed, North Ormesby and Brambles Farm ward councillor Len Junier proposed an amendment regarding allowances that every councillor in the authority should take a 5% cut for the next two years.
Mayor Ray Mallon accused him of speaking to the press saying it was “narrow-minded”.
He said: “If I had my way I would give them a bit of a pay rise. A 5% cut would be minimal, it would not be a pin prick in relation to the savings.”
The majority voted against the amendment.
Middlesbrough Conservative leader Chris Hobson submitted a proposal to alter the new senior management structure which she said would save the local authority £363,000. Mr Mallon said he would meet with her to discuss it further. Six voted for it, 34 against.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 15 May 2014