Amber Rudd pressed to review secret police files on 1980s miners’ strike
The home secretary is being pressed to review secret police intelligence files on the 1980s miners’ strike which have been ordered to remain closed until 2066.
The existence of files that may throw fresh light on the “battle of Orgreave”, the most violent clash between the police and picketing miners during the dispute, was revealed by the Home Office in response to questions from Yvette Cooper, chair of the home affairs select committee.
The home secretary, Amber Rudd, has ruled out an inquiry into the 1984 clash at the coking plant near Rotherham. She said there were very few lessons that could be learned for current day policing from such an inquiry and added that there had been “no deaths or wrongful convictions” as a result of the clash.
The Commons committee wrote to all 18 police forces that contributed to the policing of Orgreave, including the Metropolitan police. The London force was asked in particular whether it held the operational policing plan for the day the clash took place.
The Met has replied saying it did not hold the operational policing plan for Orgreave and that operations that day were led by South Yorkshire police. The other forces all said they did not hold information about Orgreave that was not already in the public domain.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council, however, replied to Cooper saying it had files containing miners’ strike intelligence reports created under its predecessor body, the Association of Chief Police Officers, which had been archived at the Hull History Centre. But because they included “personal sensitive information”, they were to remain closed to public inspection until 2066.
Sara Thornton, the chief constable of Thames Valley police and chair of the NPCC, told Cooper that the Acpo files in the Hull History Centre went back to 1856 and included 574 boxes which they were unable to review.
Cooper has now written to tRudd asking her to initiate a review of the police intelligence files to see whether they can be made publicly available or whether redacted versions could be placed in the national archives.
“People want to know the truth about what happened at Orgreave – especially in the coalfields. Little by little, our questions are uncovering what files and information are still held. Some of the intelligence files we have identified are being withheld until 2066. We have asked the home secretary to get those files independently reviewed to see if they can be released instead,” the Labour MP said.
“This correspondence also confirms that most of the Orgreave files are still with South Yorkshire police. That means the most important thing is for those files to be properly reviewed and made public too. People in coalfield communities need to know what happened at Orgreave and deserve access to the truth. There must be no more secrets or cover-ups. That is why we keep pushing to get to the bottom of this.”