The articles on Orgreave and the government’s reasons for refusing a public inquiry over the last week or so have been among the most widely read in this blog’s history. As a result of them, a number of people have contacted the author with their own accounts bearing directly on the official portrayal of events, with a particular focus on the involvement of armed forces personnel illegally masquerading as police officers.
One account, by Frazer Frizelle of Kent, has already been published on this blog and establishes ‘form’ for the police fabricating ‘weapons’ to be used to incriminate picketing miners, as does this Libcom account of the Wapping newspaper strike.
But the accounts below are available to the public for the first time and provide strong evidence for the presence of soldiers at Orgreave, posing as police officers.
Some of these people wish to remain anonymous for the moment. Some are prepared to stand by their words openly. Witnesses include a TV editor working on the footage at the time, Not all are supportive of the miners’ aims and actions, which adds even more weight to their accounts.
All of them make an even more compelling case than the already-overwhelming one that – at the very least – the incidents during the Orgreave miners’ picket deserve proper public scrutiny, for all our sake.
Here are the testimonies so far. If only a first name is shown, I do not yet have explicit permission from the commenter to give their full name. If the name is in quote marks, the comments were sent to me directly by email and the name has been changed to protect the identity of the person concerned. Without quotes means the testimony first came as a comment on the blog with only a first name on display:
I have to say that I back Maggie in the reasons and outcome of those days, but can confirm that the military were on the scene, I was editing all the rushes for Channel 4 back then and remember seeing a family member in a police uniform who I knew was serving in the forces.
I was serving in the Royal Navy between 1983 and 1984 on a coastal minesweeper as a Chief Petty Officer, while one of my messmates, another Chief Petty Officer, had been visiting family on leave in Yorkshire, when he returned on board he told those members of the Senior rates mess an interesting experience. While in a pub in Sheffield he fell into conversation with a young man with a suitcase. This young man said he was in the army any opened his suitcase and showed my messmate a police uniform.
He told my messmate he had been deployed to oppose the picketing miners.
At the time I found reported exchange quite incredible, but what the delivery driver’s testimony in your petition said substantiates the strange events in a Sheffield pub related by my comrade-in-arms.
My father in law had a milk round around Handsworth and Orgreave at the time of the strike he also served the industrial area round the pit and coke ovens.
On the day in question he was delivering down Handsworth Road and was stopped by police from going down the road that joins Orgreave Lane. Police said he had potential weapons ie milk bottles.My father in law never suffered fools gladly and told police his customers relied on their daily pinta.
After much arguing a police inspector let him through, it was early morning so he carried on with his deliveries , there was only houses on the right hand side of the road as a cemetery was on the left .As he got towards the bottom of the road he noticed several coaches on the left hand side of the road and a large box van , as he looked closer he saw people in civilian clothes getting packs of dark clothes from back of this van. My father in law did his national service and was convinced they were from the armed forces.
(note: the milkman in the account above is still around and I hope to publish an interview – hopefully named – with him in the next few days)
Working for XXXX County Council on a review of staffing levels at XXXX Police stores at XXXXX circa 88-89. Wandering around looking at bits and pieces including uniforms.
Old boy who ran the place mentioned in conversation something along the lines that those are the plain uniforms before they get numbers and anything else attached. Then he said: “Of course we supplied a lot of plain uniforms like that for the army lads to wear during the miners’ strike.”
I acted the innocent and looked a bit blank and from what he said it was clear it was so that squaddies who would have been brought in could merge in with the regular coppers.
I didn’t get the impression that this was a massive secret and when I discussed this back in my office there was a collective shrug. I have always assumed this was common knowledge.
I used to know some ex soldiers. They said they were dressed in civvies and would stand on the picket lines and on a signal would grab some of the striking miners and the Police would arrest them. Had to bite my tongue! Thatcher had given the Armed Forces & Police a wage rise and to these soldiers she was God.
I was travelling to London and saw soldiers changing into police uniforms. I was hitching my way and was in a truck south of Leeds. I saw a convoy of minibuses travelling north and soldiers were changing from army uniforms into police gear. It was at the time of The miners strike and Orgreave was on the news.
It was something that I discussed with friends in London as it was so shocking to see and I could not understand why it was not highlighted by the media.
I will swear on oath that it is true. This is too important to be left unspoken.
I went through the miners strike as a 21 yr old son of an NCB lorry driver who was on strike for the whole year. When I started my Union rep training a few years later, I met a lady who was down in London on the “Poll Tax” marches. Walking along she spotted her own son who was in the army by the side of the road, dressed as a copper. She asked him “What the hell are you doing here?” and he told her that he was there under orders, despite having objected to going to his superiors. So YES, the tories used troops to police the streets during the miners strike and other civil unrest. They also sanctioned wire taps on miners phone lines (A BT engineer told us our line was tapped after we called them out to check the line). This means that intelligence services were being used against us too I believe, after all you don’t keep a dog and bark yourself do you?
Wake up folks! 1984 is not just a book, it’s a prophecy, and legislation has just been passed to make it reality, the snoopers charter was ratified this week, banning privacy for all but those who know how to keep it and MP’s who have given themselves a legislative exemption. One rule for them, another for us, just as it always has been.
My dad was a miner, I grew up literally and figuratively in the shadow of Cortonwood pit. My mum’s brother was a corporal in the army at the time of the strike. He lost his stripes and earned a spell in the glasshouse because he refused orders to come back to South Yorkshire posing as police to help break the strikes. As other commenters have said, this has always been common knowledge in our communities.
A friend told me that his older brother lost his military ID at a picket during the strike. The soldiers had been ordered not to take their ID – or indeed any ID into the field. He was severely reprimanded for his ‘lack of judgement’ and was taken off the assignment. The ID was – to his knowledge – never found, but police officers were given photocopies of it and instructed to look for it.
I was at Orgreave from about 8-30 that morning. As a striking miner who lived about 3 miles away I was early. It was so hot many of us took off our shirts and sat about. We watched van after van of police roll up and get out. It was obvious by the way they marched in formation they were not police but servicemen.
There are so many who have heard of this happening. My late cousin was in the army bases in Germany. He told me that many men were brought back to the UK to go to hotpots of large pickets, dressed as police, without numbers.
There’s a long history of soldiers being dressed as police. We were used by the police during the troubles in Northern Ireland. We were given police uniforms to wear to back them up during any disturbance. A lot of the riots during the 90s the majority of the ones at the Drumcree protests were military.
Living in Ripon at the time, we used to see columns of Salford van hire transits leaving Deverill barracks every morning, coming back in the late evening.
I was military police for 5 yrs and know for a fact that many serving royal millitary police were on the picket lines in civil police uniforms. I’m pretty sure I could still produce photos to prove it.
I knew someone at the time whose son was in the army. She told me that he had been part of a group of soldiers who had been given police uniforms to wear. They were then taken to the picket line.
I was speaking to someone a few weeks’ back the subject got onto politics and he mentioned someone he knew who swore he saw his own son on the news footage, in police uniform. His son wasn’t a cop, he was in the army.
Not all of these accounts would necessarily stand up in a court of law – some would likely be dismissed as ‘hearsay’. But we’re not talking about a legal standard of proof – at least yet.
What is without question is that there is more than enough evidence above – and I’m sure the Orgreave campaign has much more – to show that Amber Rudd’s claim that there was no ‘miscarriage’ is absolute nonsense.
Witnesses claim that police were seen fabricating weapons that were later used to suggest violence and violent intent by striking miners. The people above saw and heard that armed forces personnel – some apparently under duress – impersonated police officers at Orgreave and elsewhere to help crush the miners’ attempts to defend their jobs and communities.
There is at least enough evidence to require a proper, independent, public inquiry into events – and to suggest that such an inquiry will reveal potentially criminal actions on the part of a Tory government willing to abuse state apparatus and by the PM current Tories idolise: Margaret Thatcher.
If an independent blog like the SKWAWKBOX can draw out this evidence with a couple of articles, a proper inquiry with powers to access records and make people testify under oath will uncover far, far more.
That is why this government is denying an inquiry – and why they must be forced to allow one.