New allegations over police reports

New allegations over police reports

Police waiting for pickets in May 1984 as they head towards to the Orgreave Coking Plant, near Rotherham, during the miners' strike

South Yorkshire Police is facing allegations over its handling of striking miners at Orgreave, Rotherham, in 1984

First published in National News © by

A police force already under scrutiny over its role in the Hillsborough disaster has said it will consider whether it will review its role in prosecutions arising out of the 1984 Miners' Strike.

A BBC documentary, due to broadcast on Monday night, features allegations that some police involved in prosecutions following the infamous violence at the Orgreave coking plant colluded when they wrote their statements.

The Inside Out programme has investigated the events following the arrest of more than 90 people at the plant in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, which saw some of the most shocking and memorable scenes of the year-long dispute.

Those charged with riot were later cleared after doubts were raised about police evidence.

The BBC said it has obtained copies of about 100 police witness statements which programme makers say show the extent to which officers used identical phrases to describe what they had seen.

Former Labour MP Vera Baird QC, who represented Orgreave miners in court, said: "I was frankly shocked by Orgreave. By the deliberate nature of putting together this case." Another barrister, Mark George QC, told the BBC: "It's very obvious in the Orgreave case that there was widespread collusion."

The allegations in the programme come at a time when the South Yorkshire force is already under intense scrutiny following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

The panel, which was chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, made a catalogue of alarming claims, including the allegation that 164 police statements were altered in the wake of the tragedy, 116 of them to remove or change negative comments about policing of the match and ensuing disaster.

Last week, the current South Yorkshire chief constable, David Crompton, told MPs his force would take just two weeks to give the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) the names and addresses of up to 1,000 officers who were on duty on the day of the Hillsborough disaster.

Asked about the Inside Out programme, a South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: "South Yorkshire Police notes the issues raised in the programme and will consider whether any review is necessary. The force is not aware of any adverse comment about the statements from the trial judge in the case. If concerns existed then normal practice would have been for the judge to raise them at the time."

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