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28/10/20 15:17

Pardon for miners convicted during strike

Justice Secretary welcomes independent review report.

Miners convicted of certain offences relating to the strike in 1984-85 will be pardoned in order to aid reconciliation within the affected communities, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has announced.

John Scott QC’s independent review of the impact of policing on communities during the strike recommends that, subject to establishing suitable criteria, the Scottish Government should introduce legislation to pardon those convicted for matters related to the strike.

The pardons scheme will require new legislation to be introduced by the Scottish Government and passed by the Scottish Parliament in due course.

The Justice Secretary said:

There is no doubt that many miners suffered great hardship because of the strike and convictions arising from it. Although the strike took place some 35 years ago, it is clear from conversations I have had with many miners the pain they feel is still very raw to this day.

“This collective pardon also applies posthumously and symbolises our desire for truth and reconciliation, following the decades of hurt, anger and misconceptions which were generated by one of the most bitter and divisive industrial disputes in living memory.

“The pardon is intended to acknowledge the disproportionate impacts arising from miners being prosecuted and convicted during the strike – such as the loss of their job.  Subject to Parliament’s approval of legislation, it will also recognise the exceptional circumstances that resulted in former miners suffering hardship and the loss of their good name through their participation in the strike.

“It is also vital to acknowledge that many officers involved in policing the strike found it an incredibly difficult time – being rooted in their communities and having family members who were miners. The work John Scott QC has done to reach out to all those involved in an effort to aid reconciliation is to be commended.”

John Scott QC said:

“When this review was announced on 7 June 2018 by Michael Matheson MSP, the then Cabinet Secretary for Justice, he acknowledged that ‘the scars from the experience [of the strike] still run deep.’

“This strike was different – for miners it was about communities defending their way of life, their jobs, and their future. More than three decades on, the question posed for us was how best to learn from this period, to aid the community as a whole – importantly, including the policing community – in understanding, reconciliation and inclusion.

“In many meetings, including eight in mining communities in 2018, we were privileged to meet and hear from many of those who are still affected by the strike – miners, police officers and the families of both. These and others helped us to reach what seemed to us to be an appropriate acknowledgement by the State for some of the lasting damage. I am grateful to my colleagues – Kate, Dennis and Jim – for their wise counsel and invaluable insight in this important work.”

Nicky Wilson, President of the National Union of Mineworkers (Scotland), said:

“The NUM in Scotland welcomes the outcome of the independent inquiry set up by the Scottish Government, the fact that this injustice is now being addressed by a Pardon being given to Miners found guilty of offences in relation to the 84-85 Miners strike removes a stigma that has lasted for 36 years.

“These miners were involved in a strike to fight to protect their jobs, industry and financial wellbeing of their communities, and many lost their jobs and futures through being arrested. The fact the Scottish Government has taken this decision to correct this longstanding wrong lends weight to the argument that a UK-wide Inquiry must now be set up in order the same justice is given to our colleagues in England and Wales who were similarly treated wrongly.”

Iain Livingstone, Chief Constable of Police Scotland said:

“The miners’ strike of 1984-85 was a time of great disruption and hardship in mining communities and indeed across all of Scotland. Policing has always been of and from our communities. During the miners’ strike, though many officers demonstrated compassion and commitment to public service in challenging circumstances, injustices arose.

“Discharging our duties with fairness, integrity and respect is vital to the bond of trust between policing and the citizens we serve. We will always value that relationship and the public consent from which we draw our authority. I support the work of the independent review and endorse the comments of Mr Scott QC and the Cabinet Secretary for Justice. The Police Service of Scotland will continue working to build and maintain our cohesive communities and serve the people of Scotland.”

Background

The final report of the Independent Review of the impact on communities of the policing of the miners’ strike 1984-85 has now been published, coinciding with a Parliamentary statement from the Justice Secretary, outlining the Scottish Government’s response.

The report was prepared by John Scott QC, Solicitor Advocate, who chaired a Review Group comprising, in addition: Jim Murdoch CBE, Professor of Public Law at Glasgow University; Kate Thomson QPM, former Assistant Chief Constable; and Dennis Canavan, former MP and MSP.

Assistance was also provided to the Review by: Nicky Wilson, President of the National Union of Mineworkers in Scotland; Jim McBrierty of the Retired Police Officers Association Scotland; Tom Wood and Graham Bennet, retired Deputy Chief Constables of Lothian & Borders and Fife respectively; and Professor Jim Phillips.