West Fife joins calls for miners' strike police inquiry

Published: 28 Dec 2012 09:0018 comments

CALLS for a full independent inquiry into the policing of the 1984-85 miners' strike have been backed in West Fife, former heartland of the Scottish coal industry.

Bob Young, who was leader of the miners in West Fife, said it was time that the public finally found out the truth.

Mr Young, now a long-serving Dunfermline councillor, was one of 500 Scottish miners convicted of offences during the bitter year-long dispute.

He was the only sacked miner in Britain to win his job back and hopes that the stain against the name of his former colleagues can finally be removed.

Labour politicians at Holyrood and Westminster are calling for a "full, independent and comprehensive review" into each case.

The plea came from Neil Findlay MSP and David Hamilton MP, a former miner who spent two months in jail for his part in the strike.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has been urged to launch an independent review.

The call comes as the Independent Police Complaints Commission is carrying out an investigation into allegations officers tampered with witness statements at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire, where many West Fife miners were arrested.

Mr Young said, "The Hillsborough case has shown how the police lied and covered up and that was the same force who were at Orgreave when they came charging at us on horses.

"I remember we were at a picket in the Frances Colliery one day and we watched as the police came down and picked out the NUM officials and the guys who ran the strike centres.

"You could see them walking down and targeting them. Myself, I was arrested more than once and we need a full inquiry into what went on at that time.

"The public wouldn't believe you if you told them some of the things that did go on back then.

"Myself, Davie Hamilton and other guys knew our phones were being tapped and we proved it one day when we said on the phone we would be going to picket one pit where they sent hundreds of police but we went to Comrie instead where there were none.

"When we would go to picket lines down in England there would be hundreds, thousands of police."

Mr Young found out he had been sacked two days before the miners returned to work in 1985.

"The boys were going back on the Monday and somebody came to my door on the Saturday and handed a letter to my daughter, Lorna, who was just 12. I was out in the garden and she brought me the letter.

"They said it was because of what happened in Cartmore in Lochgelly. There were 133 arrests that day but only one sacking - that was me.

"I never thought I'd get another job. I thought that was me finished because I'd been in the press and on television but fortunately I had some good friends who gave me advice and I managed to take the National Coal Board to task and beat them.

"I got my job back at Comrie Colliery 15 months later. I was still the chairman of the union because the boys had re-elected me when I was not in the pit. I got my job back in the June and then there was a meeting in the September.

"They told us they were closing the pit in the January which they duly did. It closed on 26th January 1987.

"I'm still the only miner who was re-instated in the whole of the coal board. The reason was because I taped all my interviews without telling them.

"Then at the tribunal when they got up and said I had been cursing, swearing and using threatening language I was able to produce the tapes and prove I wasn't.

"My argument is that's what they did to me and that must have been replicated throughout the industry.

"I remember I went up in court before a judge they had brought out of retirement and he said, 'You're not allowed within 15 miles of the Cartmore site'.

"I looked at him and said, 'That means I'll not be able to go home then because I live in Dunfermline and that's within 15 miles of the site'. He didn't have a clue.

"He said, 'We'll make it 10 miles then' and I said, 'No good, that's still taking in my house'.

"He ended up saying, 'Well you're not allowed near the Cartmore site'. But that just showed they were so out of touch from what was happening locally."

Fife Council leader Alex Rowley said, "There were a lot of miners treated in a way that was rather suspect and I certainly personally support the campaign.

"I think there would be a strong feeling in the council as well that where an injustice has been done then that has to be dealt with, no matter how many years on we are.

"With a lot of the sacked miners there is mounting evidence to show that they weren't treated correctly and some of the convictions are questionable.

"If there's an injustice which can be corrected it should be corrected."

Dunfermline MP Thomas Docherty has spoken to his colleague, David Hamilton, on the issue and has asked former miners to contact him if they believe they were a victim of a miscarriage of justice during the strike.

"I'm conscious that this was almost 30 years ago and some of the miners may not be alive but I'd urge miners or their families to get in touch with my office if they feel they were stitched-up by the police during the strike," he told the Press.

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  • fifechap
    45 posts
    Dec 28, 09:44
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    This is long overdue, ...also 2 names that make miners blood boil

    Yuill and Dodds, ..i seen there lorries working on the new Forth bridge site on the Fife

    side ..should bring back bitter memories to some miners

    Recommend?   Yes 10     No 50

  • BobBaconButty
    3 posts
    Dec 28, 10:43
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    Will they be looking at both sides. You know the bricks through the windows and intimidation of those that couldn't support the strike in the villages? Are the miners still sore the state used all means so that they could not hold the country to ransom? Give it a rest and move on from the petty vindictiveness.

    Recommend?   Yes 46     No 9

  • SmarmyGit
    474 posts
    Dec 28, 10:48
    Report abuse

    The minute the miners went on strike they signed their own demise, Thatcher had contingency plans in place but if it wasn't for north sea oil and gas the strike would have been over in weeks, she knew that and used this new found wealth to her advantage.

    Its easy to say move on from this and stop with the petty vindictiveness but folk have long memories and even to this day there are still divisions withing communties.....

    Recommend?   Yes 38     No 5

  • BobBaconButty
    3 posts
    Dec 28, 13:05
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    Lions led by donkeys was a quote at the time. The chief donkey thinks he should have a free £1.5m London flat for life paid for by union members. Hypocrite.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/dec/21/arthur-scargill-battle-union-flat?intcmp=239

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/shortcuts/2012/oct/07/arthur-scargill-barbican?intcmp=239

    Recommend?   Yes 40     No 7

  • jockrock1955
    51 posts
    Dec 28, 14:15
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    The miners were led down the garden path by front line union/labour leaders i.e Scargill Basically the miners union was becoming much too militant and also coal stocks then were down and too dear to mine and as results proved it was better to import the coal.

    Thatcher took the bull by the horns and decided to break the miners and in effect broke most union policies not just for miners.

    By the way I am a SNP character and not a Thatcherite, it didn't matter whose name it was some person would have stepped in to do the job that Thatcher had done.

    Thatcher was a flag bearer for all industry to follow her lead and weaken the unions..Do you still get double time on Sundays ? Do you get group pay deals or as the case is now of a performance related pay?

    There are two sides to this story and the scabs or whatever the miners and their families called back to work miners were abused greatly,all because they wanted to feed and cloth their family.

    Recommend?   Yes 35     No 7

  • maclam
    849 posts
    Dec 28, 15:46
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    let it rest , it was bad enough for everyone in the country at the time without opening up old wounds again.

    sadly putting other workers on short time because of power cuts did not endear the miners to all the other people with families to support affected by a loss in earnings.

    Recommend?   Yes 54     No 11

  • ItsErnie
    454 posts
    Dec 28, 17:23
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    I remember, as I'm sure most people do, the power cuts, homes and schools with no heating and bully-boy collectors withy buckets in the streets for the strikers. I can remember too the miners' houses with roaring fires with their 'free' coal. Sod them all - best thing Thatcher ever did and woe betide any government that puts the country in their hands ever again.

    Recommend?   Yes 37     No 18

  • lydiapot1
    123 posts
    Dec 28, 19:53
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    This raises the issue of Police Officers tampering with evidence. This bent practice has massive consequence for the defendent and this year resulted in a then serving Fife officer being convicted for this gross crime. In this example, a person had already spent several years in jail based on that tampered evidence. This practice has no place in a Police Force and must be weeded out. As they often say 'dealt with robustly'.

    I would gladly share a prison cell with any Police Officer convicted of such crime. They would not do it again.

    Recommend?   Yes 55     No 50

  • Blackadder
    331 posts
    Dec 28, 23:54
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    I do remember the power cuts and the three day week. But not in the time of this strike. That all happened during the strike of the 70s which was preceded by work to rule resulting in a shortage of coal by the time the strike started.

    After averting a strike in '81 the government arranged the stockpiling of coal to ensure demand would be met when the inevitable strike did happen. Thatcher went into battle better prepared than Heath.

    Recommend?   Yes 30     No 8

  • supersonic
    269 posts
    Dec 29, 03:29
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    I was a child during miners strike in a miners family and had to endure food rations. Family choice beans, bread, cornflakes...

    As soon as the milk came into contact with the cornflakes they became soggy!

    I still wake up screaming... Kellogg all the way now! That's how I know I "MADE IT"

    Recommend?   Yes 16     No 26

  • supersonic
    269 posts
    Dec 30, 05:53
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    That'll be a no then!

    Recommend?   Yes 10     No 6

  • benefithater
    66 posts
    Dec 30, 09:07
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    Typical of peoples mentality these days. Stop dwelling on the past and look to the future and what it may bring. A waste of tax payers money investigating an incident that happened over 25 years ago. Id rather they spent that money on school equipment or road repairs. What outcome will this bring if they go ahead?

    Recommend?   Yes 17     No 7

  • lydiapot1
    123 posts
    Dec 31, 12:50
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    Dwelling on the past is in vogue. DJ's of the seventies for example who are being brought to justice now. So if it is good for them, it is good for allegations of bent coppers to be fully investigated using the full measures currently available. If all current allegations of bent Police then and now which is currently resounding round the country is proven, then it is very serious situation which this country has allowed.

    Recommend?   Yes 22     No 11

  • ItsErnie
    454 posts
    Dec 31, 23:11
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    I see that Rowley and Docherty are scurrying to get in on the act. Must smell a vote or 2 in the offing. Docherty of course, as an incomer, knows nowt about it.

    Recommend?   Yes 6     No 5

  • justsayin
    38 posts
    Jan 1, 03:48
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    What's an 'incomer'?

    Recommend?   Yes 5     No 3

  • ros2015
    10 posts
    Jan 2, 08:04
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    2013 guys move on please

    Recommend?   Yes 3     No 3

  • SmarmyGit
    474 posts
    Jan 3, 05:00
    Report abuse

    Move on?

    Once the bent coppers have been taken to task we'll all move on.

    Recommend?   Yes 6     No 5

  • lydiapot1
    123 posts
    Jan 3, 06:33
    Report abuse

    Am working on it now.

    Recommend?   Yes 8     No 5