Two senior South Yorkshire Police officers and a solicitor involved in the force’s investigations into both Hillsborough and the Battle of Orgreave have been publicly named as pressure for a new inquiry into the events of 1984 continues to mount.
Groups fighting for a formal inquiry into the events at Orgreave during the miners’ strike say the attitudes towards police statements following the violence and evidence suggesting the force created a story favourable to itself prefigured what happened after the disaster at the FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield in 1989.
A total of 95 miners were charged following the disturbances but the cases collapsed after questions emerged over the validity of police accounts of the confrontation between thousands of pickets and officers drafted in from around the UK at the Rotherham coking plant on June 18 1984.
The senior South Yorkshire Police (SYP) officers and solicitor involved in the aftermath of Hillsborough and Orgreave were today named for the first time by The Guardian newspaper.
Submissions heard by the coroner at the recently concluded Hillsborough Inquests outlined how solicitor Peter Metcalf was involved in both investigations.
And two senior officers - Deputy Chief Constable Peter Hayes and Assistant Chief Constable Walter Jackson - were also connected to both inquiries.
Earlier this month, links between the force’s actions in the aftermath of Orgreave and Britain’s worst sporting disaster were revealed for the first time.
During the inquests, coroner Sir John Goldring decided not to allow questioning about what happened at Orgreave because he said it would open a “Pandora’s box” and divert the hearings into a much broader investigation of the events of 1984.
During the legal arguments, lawyers representing the Hillsborough families pointed to evidence they said showed Mr Metcalf and unnamed people at SYP HQ in Sheffield were reluctant to disclose anything detrimental to the police in respect of Orgreave.
They argued that this evidence could support the suggestion of a similar reluctance or opposition in respect of Hillsborough.
In the legal argument at the Hillsborough inquests, Michael Mansfield QC told Goldring that police officers gave false evidence on oath about this dictation.
And in transcripts of the hearing held without the jury in court, but able to be reported by The Guardian now the jury has returned verdicts, he said there “clearly was perjury” in the Orgreave miners’ trial,
He added: “Many of the statements had had a dictated introduction to fit the charges that were brought, but many of the [police] witnesses said that it wasn’t dictated and it was their own words.”
He added that the force’s stance on Orgreave “is not dissimilar in this regard to the position in Hillsborough because the second stage here is the overall managed narrative that we say is going on, in other words, to extricate responsibility by senior officers and others and, as it were, expunge any criticism of them whilst at the same time elevating any misbehaviour - I put it in general terms - of Liverpool supporters.”
But in his ruling, Sir John concluded: “At the heart of (the lawyer’s) submissions is the suggested similarity in respect of evidence gathering as between Orgreave and Hillsborough.
“As it would be put in a criminal context, he would be seeking to use what happened regarding the gathering of evidence at Orgreave as similar fact evidence when considering the same topic at Hillsborough. That inevitably would require comparison between the two.
“That comparison could only take place by analysing the issues arising in respect of the gathering of evidence at Orgreave and comparing them to those at Hillsborough. That would lead inexorably to an examination of what happened at Orgreave. The Pandora’s box would be open.”
But Sir John also said: “There were, on the face of it, substantial differences between events at Orgreave and those at Hillsborough. The officers were different. Any problems regarding the gathering of evidence were different. The way the evidence was gathered was different.”
The coroner said: “I should underline this in respect of Mr Metcalf. The issue for the jury is what inference, if any, they can draw from SYP’s conduct during the gathering of the evidence as to the circumstances in which those who died came to do so.
“Mr Metcalf’s conduct is only relevant insofar as it can throw light on that issue.”
Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign Secretary Barbara Jackson said she believes the evidence of links between the investigation of both events and some of the individuals involved cannot be ignored.
She said: “A lot of people are digging around now and looking really seriously at this in a way that probably hasn’t been done before.
“We were not been able to talk about this until the end of the Hillsborough inquest but it was the same police, the same chief constable, the same senior police team and, now, the same solicitor.
“It was the same issues over the falsification of statements and it was the same solicitor advising.”
South Yorkshire Police referred itself to the IPCC in 2012 over allegations that officers colluded to write court statements relating to Orgreave.
The watchdog later said the passage of time prevented a formal investigation but said there was “support” for the allegation that senior police exaggerated pickets’ use of violence.
The commission said earlier this month that it is now considering whether an unredacted version of its report into Orgreave can now be made public.
South Yorkshire’s chief constable Dave Jones marked the moment he took over temporary control of the South Yorkshire force by offering to listen to the Orgreave activists, as well as families of the 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster.
Mrs Jackson said the group has not yet heard from Mr Jones.
She said they want the chief constable to intervene in their legal bid to push Home Secretary Theresa May to hold a public inquiry into the events at Orgreave 32 years ago.
Former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, who was famously arrested during Orgreave disturbances, has also called for a public inquiry into what happened.
Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said earlier this month: “As I’ve always said, we won’t have the truth about Hillsborough until we have the full truth about Orgreave.”