BREAKING: SNP Accept Miners Strike Policing Review

The Scottish Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, has announced plans to launch an independent review of the impact of policing on communities in Scotland during the miners’ strike between 1984-85.

The review is to be led by John Scott QC, and the advisory panel will include former Labour and independent MSP Dennis Canavan, former Assistant Chief Constable Kate Thomson, and Professor Jim Murdoch of the University of Glasgow. 

Scottish Labour's Neil Findlay, who has long campaigned for an inquiry into policing tactics during the miners strike welcomed the decision today. 

“This is a major step forward in the fight for justice for so many people in mining communities across Scotland.

“More than 30 years after the strike of 1984/85 and following three decades of campaigning by many people, we now have an independent review to be led by John Scott QC.

“This is a huge breakthrough in the fight for justice and the truth about what actually happened in Scotland during that period, but it also must not shut off the possibility of a full public inquiry at a later date.

“The release of the Cabinet papers under the 30-year rule and the fallout from the Hillsborough campaign exposed how the Police and judiciary acted under the political direction of the then-Tory Government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and were instructed to defeat the strike, no matter the cost.

“This was all part of a plan to attack organised working people and their trade unions.

“Scottish miners suffered disproportionately from the impact – with just 10 per cent of the overall UK mining workforce Scotland saw 30 per cent of the sackings following arrest.

“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. 

“I hope that this independent review is thorough, inclusive and provides an opportunity for those who were involved to come forward and give evidence so we can finally shine a light on this enormously important period in our country’s history.”

Campaigners have called for violent incidents at Hunterston ore terminal in Ayrshire, and the Ravenscraig steelworks in Lanarkshire to be investigated, with parallels being drawn with Yorkshire’s “Battle of Orgreave” in June 1984.

The announcement has also been welcomed by historians, with University of the West of Scotland academic, Ewan Gibbs commenting:"Today's announcement represents a significant step forward for campaigners from coalfield communities who have been arguing for an investigation into the policing of  the strike since it finished. 

"Over 200 Scottish miners who were convicted of offences during the strike lost their jobs and over 500 were convicted in total, both rates highly disproportionate to rates across the UK."

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