Ministers may have misled Parliament with claims that the Independent Police Complaints Commission warned against an inquiry into policing at Orgreave, Andy Burnham revealed in the Commons today.
The Police watchdog confirmed to Labour that it had not advised against an Inquiry at this time - casting major doubt over a Ministerial statement in the Lords last week.
During an Urgent Question in the Commons this lunchtime, the Shadow Home Secretary accused the Government of shunting calls for the inquiry into the long grass. Burnham called on the new Home Secretary Amber Rudd to correct the misleading impression given to Parliament.
The so-called Battle of Orgreave in 1984 was brought back into the public eye following the Hillsborough Inquest verdicts in April this year.
Last Wednesday, Government Minister Lord Keen told the House of Lords that "the IPCC told Home Office officials that if it announced any action to set up an inquiry or other investigation relating to Orgreave, it would have an impact on the Hillsborough investigation. It is for that reason that the decision will be taken only once that part has been concluded."
However, the Deputy Chair of the IPCC later confirmed that “the IPCC has not taken or offered any position on whether there should be a public inquiry into the events at Orgreave during the miners' strike. That is a decision that is entirely a matter for the Home Secretary."
A report published last year by the IPCC found that senior officers had made untrue statements.
In December 2015, Theresa May received a legal submission from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign after offering to consider a public inquiry.
On the same afternoon as the Minister’s comments in the Lords, the Campaign received confirmation that the Government will not be proceeding with the inquiry until the Hillsborough investigations are complete.
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said:
“The miners' strike, and the so-called Battle of Orgreave, remains one of the most contested periods in our nation's history when, in the words of one former Chief Constable, the police were ‘an army of occupation’.
"At the very same as our new PM was on the steps of Downing St last week promising to ‘fight injustice’, one of her Ministers was announcing her last decision as Home Secretary which was to shunt Orgreave into the long grass.
“The Home Secretary should correct the misleading impression given to Parliament that the IPCC had advised the Home Office against the establishment of an Inquiry at this time.
“There is no reason whatsoever why on-going Hillsborough investigations should delay an Orgreave Inquiry and, that in similar situations, it is commonplace for the Home Office protections to be put in place to manage any risks.
“The Home Secretary today should do the right thing, restore damaged trust in coalfield communities amongst people who have already waited more than 30 years for the truth and order a full public inquiry into Orgreave.”