Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rudd Accused of Trying to Protect Thatcher's Legacy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rudd Accused of Trying to Protect Thatcher's Legacy

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard Wheeler and Jon Vale Reporters

HOME Secretary Amber Rudd has been accused of protecting Margaret Thatcher's legacy by deciding to reject an Orgreave inquiry.

Labour MPs also reacted angrily after Policing Minister Brandon Lewis defended the decision from the despatch box during an urgent question rather than Ms Rudd.

Mr Lewis insisted Ms Rudd answered questions from MPs about the issue and outlined her reasoning in a written statement on Monday, with time needed for all sides to digest the information before any decision on future meetings with campaigners are agreed.

Ms Rudd had been expected to order an inquiry into the events of June 18, 1984, when pickets clashed with police officers at the Orgreave coking plant near Rotherham, in what was seen as the most violent confrontation of the miners' strike.

Ninety-five pickets - including four who worked in the County Durham coalfields - facing trumped up charges including that of riot based on fabricated evidence with police officers found to have perjured themselves in providing it.

All the cases were dropped before they got to court and PS425,000 compensation was paid out. No officer has ever been disciplined.

However, Ms Rudd shocked campaigners by deciding against any kind of inquiry.

Yesterday in the Commons Mr Lewis bore the brunt of Labour MPs' fury.

Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley) told him: "I feel sorry for you because the Home Secretary bottled it yesterday and she's bottled it today."

Veteran Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) said: "Why is it that 31 years is too long for an inquiry and yet 31 years is not too long for this Government to hide the cabinet papers on the strike and refuse to release them.

"Why is it so long that we now know that the Thatcher government was going to close 75 pits and not 20? …

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