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by Kirsteen Paterson
16 June 2022
Scotland becomes first part of UK to pardon those prosecuted during miners' strike

Scotland becomes first part of UK to pardon those prosecuted during miners' strike

Scotland has become the first part of the UK to pardon miners prosecuted during the 1984-85 miners' strike.

But Westminster, not the Scottish Government, should be responsible for paying compensation for injustice during the miners' strike, the Scottish Parliament has heard.

MSPs debated stage three amendments to the Miners' Strike (Pardons) (Scotland) Bill this afternoon, which was drawn up to wipe the convictions of those found guilty of breaching the peace, obstructing police or breaking bail conditions during the period of industrial action, which saw UK-wide attempts to prevent colliery closures and save jobs.

Labour's Richard Leonard said Scots affected need "real justice" in the form of a compensation scheme.

And the Chamber also considered calls to extend the provisions of the legislation to cover the close family members of striking miners, as well as supporters affected by arrest and prosecution.

Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy said such an extension would "send a clear message that standing in solidarity with striking workers should not cost anyone their livelihoods".

On compensation, the SNP's Christine Grahame said there was "no Scottish Parliament at the time" and "liability falls at the feet of the UK" and called for pressure on the UK Government over the £4.4b miners' pension fund.

Alex Rowley, of Labour, said "millions of pounds of compensation" had been "given to the Rangers Football Club directors because of the ill-lawful way that they've been treated".

He said: "We could find money for them. So let's find manage money for the miners."

Justice secretary Keith Brown said Leonard had failed to set out how a compensation scheme would work, and stated: "It was a national coal board, it was industrial relations and employment law which is reserved to Westminster. 

"How are we going to examine that and apportion blame for it; the records are held at Westminster?"

He went on: "We don't disagree on the principle of compensation. We've said that from the start, it's how we can be best achieved."

As many as 500 miners were convicted during the strike, with more than 200 sacked.

Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton reminded the chamber that "miners here in Scotland were twice as likely to be arrested and three times likely to be as dismissed as miners and other coal fields across the United Kingdom".

Ahead of the debate, Brown said he hoped the legislation would "restore dignity to those convicted, provide comfort to their families" and "bring closure to the sense of injustice members of mining communities may feel".

Former miners gathered outside the Scottish Parliament ahead of the vote.

Maggie Chapman of the Scottish Greens said some wounds created by the "ideologically-driven attack by a Tory government" had "never healed".

Rachel Hamilton of the Conservatives called the issue "highly charged" and said it was "absolutely vital that the government got this bill right today," adding: "I think we did get it right, even though I wasn't involved in that process."

Read the most recent article written by Kirsteen Paterson - Broken record: What do House of Lords defeats say about the UK Government?

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