Shropshire Star

Review into miners’ strike should consider pardons, Scottish Labour demands

Neil Findlay MSP has said that pardons should be considered for wrongful convictions by the lawyer-led review into the miners’ strike during the 1980s

Ranks of police face the picketing line outside Orgreave Coking Plant

A review into the 1980s’ miners’ strike should consider pardons and “ensure that politicised convictions are thrown into the dustbin of history”, Scottish Labour has said.

An independent review into the impact of policing during the strike, which saw hundreds of Scottish miners arrested, was announced in Holyrood last year.

But now Scottish Labour has urged the lawyer-led investigation to consider pardoning people who were wrongly convicted following the industrial action attempting to prevent the closure of pits by Margaret Thatcher’s government.

The dispute, which ran for a year between March 1984 and March 1985, saw violent clashes between the police and strikers.

The party said that 30% of the miners sacked following arrests were from Scotland, despite the country making up 10% of the mining workforce, claiming that Scottish miners were “disproportionately arrested”.

Neil Findlay MSP said: “Mining communities across Britain suffered at the hands of politicised and often brutal policing as Margaret Thatcher and her Tory government used the power of the state to crush working people.

“Scottish miners suffered disproportionately from these underhand tactics during this struggle.

“Many of these workers lost not just their jobs and income, but their relationships, their homes, and many their mental and physical health.

“Some were blacklisted and others went to their graves the victims of a miscarriage of justice with a criminal conviction against their name when the reality was they had done nothing wrong.

“The review of these convictions should consider pardons, and ensure that politicised convictions are thrown into the dustbin of history where they belong.”

However, the Scottish Government has said that the review by Scotland’s Solicitor Advocate John Scott QC will not be looking at individual convictions and called for a UK-wide investigation that would be able to fully consider the UK government’s involvement in the strike.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scotland is leading the way in ensuring that the experiences of those affected are properly heard and understood.”

She added: “The Scottish Government understands that strong feelings persist in Scotland about the events of 1984/85, especially in mining communities.

“While it is not within the scope of the independent review to re-examine individual convictions, it is hoped it will bring openness and an element of closure to all of those who have been impacted.

“Clearly, we will await the findings of the independent review before considering what, if any, further actions are appropriate.”

Miners' strike
An independent review into the impact of policing during the strike has been launched in Scotland (PA)

In September, Mr Scott urged those involved in the protests to speak out and said: “Although the miners’ strike took place over 30 years ago, I am aware that strong feelings about it persist in Scotland, especially in mining communities.

“If you were a miner, part of a mining community, a police officer
or in some other way affected by, or involved in, the strike, please let us know about your experience.”

Mr Scott is being assisted during the review by an advisory panel made up of former MP and MSP Dennis Canavan, Jim Murdoch, a professor of public law at the University of Glasgow, and former assistant chief constable Kate Thomson.

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