Orgreave: cops still getting away with it, 32 years on

Worried that it could return an indictment of the police as over the Hillsborough disaster, the Tory government has refused an inquiry into the “Battle of Orgreave”, when cops attacked striking miners outside a coking plant near Sheffield.

Bernard Jackson was one of the miners arrested on 18 June 1984, charged with riot and put on trial. He described the day:

Around 8 a.m.... out rode fourteen mounted police straight into the pickets. As they did, police in the line beat on their riot shields with truncheons, creating a wall of noise which was meant to intimidate and frighten.

Within minutes the shields parted again and the cavalry started on its second charge, already at a fast canter as they burst through the gap in the wall of plastic. By about 9.30 a.m. the tactics changed again and this time, when the shields parted, it was police support units with riot gear, drawn truncheons and short shields which emerged. They were only concerned with injuring. It made no difference if pickets stood still, raised their hands or ran away; truncheons were used on arms and legs, trucks and shoulder, and particularly on heads and faces.

Men lay around unconscious or semi-conscious with vicious wounds on their bodies and heads. Around 10.30 a.m. there was a lull... [Then came a new PSU attack] ... instead of simply felling people, they now felled them and dragged them back through the lines... As I was dragged through the cordon the coppers nearest lashed out with their truncheons: “Bastard miner”, “Fucking Yorkie miner”. Fists, boots or truncheons, it didn’t matter so long as they could have a go at you...

Eventually we were put into a pig bus [mobile prison] and taken to Rotherham. So successful had been their haul that all the cells in Rotherham were full and the twenty or thirty of us from Sheffield were placed in an outside compound. Its walls were solid, topped with a row of short bars all the way round, just below the roof. There was no visibility at all. I was surrounded by bleeding and injured men, some of them old, some of them young and many of them frightened....

I felt anger towards the media who had consistently chosen selectively, right from the start of the strike, what they pictured and what they reported. I felt anger at the state which was obviously pulling the strings. I felt anger at the men who should have been supporting us, the Kinnocks and the Willises, pompously condemning picket line violence when they had never been near on or near a picket line.

• The fight for an inquiry continues