Policing of 1980s miners' strike to be reviewed

Written by Tom Freeman on 8 June 2018 in News

Independent review of the policing of the 1984/5 miners' strike announced by Michael Matheson

Mine: Frances Colliery - Bob the Lomond

The policing of the 1980s miners’ strike in Scotland is to be the subject of an independent review, it has been announced.

The UK-wide industrial dispute in 1984 and 1985 saw around 500 miners arrested in Scotland, many of whom had no previous criminal records.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson told MSPs the review will be led by John Scott QC and will report in 2019.

Former MP and MSP Dennis Canavan, former assistant chief constable Kate Thomson and Prof Jim Murdoch of Glasgow University will assist Scott.

Ministers have previously resisted calls for a Scottish review, suggesting it should be UK-wide, but Matheson said a lack of action by the UK Government – including ruling out a review of the ‘Battle of Orgreave’ in Yorkshire – had convinced him to act.

“Scotland will lead the way in ensuring the experiences of those affected by the policing of the dispute in the 1980s are properly understood,” he said.

“This represented an extremely turbulent and difficult time for many mining communities in Scotland. And although more than three decades have passed, the feelings and scars from that time still run deep and there are questions that still need to be answered.”

Labour MSP Neil Findlay has been campaigning for a review for years.

“This is a huge breakthrough in the fight for justice and the truth about what actually happened in Scotland during that period, but it also must not shut off the possibility of a full public inquiry at a later date,” he said.

“The release of the Cabinet papers under the 30-year rule and the fallout from the Hillsborough campaign exposed how the Police and judiciary acted under the political direction of the then-Tory Government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and were instructed to defeat the strike, no matter the cost.

John Scott QC said: “Although the Miners’ Strike took place over thirty years ago, I am aware that strong feelings about it persist in Scotland, especially in mining communities.

“Many documents of potential relevance are now publicly available. These will have to be considered but I am also keen to listen to individuals and communities directly affected.”

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