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Policing during miners' strike: independent review

Role of the group

On 7 June 2018 Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson MSP made a statement to the Scottish Parliament, confirming the establishment of an independent review, to be led by John Scott QC.

The remit of the review is to investigate and report on the impact of policing on affected communities in Scotland during the period of the miners' strike from March 1984 to March 1985.

It is envisaged that the review will:

  • provide an interim report to Ministers which sets out initial findings by January 2019
  • carry out further necessary engagement and provide a final report by June 2019, which sets out lessons learned and makes recommendations for any further action required

It is not expected that the review will deal with individual cases or specific events, but will:

  • consider matters that fall under the devolved remit of Scottish Ministers
  • take full account of previous investigations into the events of the time
  • review the appropriate documents that are available

See the Cabinet Secretary's June 2018 statement and accompanying news release.

Members

John Scott, Review Lead

John has been solicitor since 1987 specialising in criminal cases, was appointed QC Solicitor Advocate in 2011 and is a Partner in Capital Defence Lawyers.

He has been involved in some of the most high profile High Court trials and appeal cases in Scotland, and has also appeared on several occasions as senior counsel before the Supreme Court.

John was a member of reference groups for Lord Coulsfield's review of the law and practice of disclosure in criminal proceedings in Scotland 2007, Sheriff Principal Bowen's review of sheriff and jury procedures in 2009/10 and Lord Carloway's review of criminal law and practice in 2011.

Subsequently, John has led independent advisory groups in reviews of Stop & Search (2015) and Biometric Data (2017).

John was chair of JUSTICE Scotland during 2014/2015 and chair of the Scottish Human Rights Centre from 1997 to 2005. He has been Convenor of the Howard League for Penal Reform in Scotland since 2006.

An Advisory Panel will provide assistance to the Review Lead:

Dennis Canavan, Advisory Panel Member

Dennis is a former MP and MSP. Born in Cowdenbeath, he was educated there at St. Bride's and St. Columba's Schools, and then at the University of Edinburgh.

He worked as a schoolteacher from 1968 until 1974 and was Assistant Head of Holyrood High School, Edinburgh, at the time of his first election to Westminster. He was an MP for over a quarter of a century (1974 to 2000), representing West Stirlingshire and then Falkirk West, initially for the Labour Party and latterly as an independent.

Having been an active supporter of devolution, Dennis was elected in the 1999 election to represent the Falkirk West constituency in the Scottish Parliament, which he continued to do until his retirement in 2007. In 2014 he chaired the Advisory Board of Yes Scotland.

Jim Murdoch, Advisory Panel Member

Jim is Professor of Public Law at Glasgow University. He joined the School of Law in 1979 after qualifying as a solicitor. He read law as an undergraduate at Glasgow and has an LLM from the University of California at Berkeley. He was Head of the School of Law between 1996 and 2000.

He has taught at several European universities and was a professeur stagiaire with the Directorate of Human Rights of the Council of Europe in France.

In recognition of his work in human rights education and in particular, the Human Rights Project, in 2012 Jim was awarded the Pro Merito medal of the Council of Europe (the highest distinction granted by the Secretary General in recognition of commitment to the Council of Europe's values and work). In 2018 he was awarded an CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Kate Thomson, Advisory Panel Member

Kate is a former Assistant Chief Constable with Police Scotland. She was born, raised, went to school and spent a large part of her working life in Dumfries and Galloway.

During her 32 years' service as a police officer, she worked with a number of multi-agency partnerships at front line, supervisory and also senior management levels. Latterly, she had strategic responsibility for the delivery of policing across nine local authorities in the East of Scotland ensuring that key policing services were delivered in accordance with local needs and agreed community plans.

She was instrumental in developing a more collaborative approach to the development local policing plans. Kate graduated from Stirling University with an MSc in Strategic Leadership in 2011; she was awarded the Queens Police Medal in the 2016 New Year's Honours List.

Background

The 1984 to 1985 miners' strike is widely regarded as having been one of the UK's most significant industrial actions of the post-war era, with the policing of the dispute – especially at certain flashpoints – having been an aspect of particular concern. The consequences of the dispute, including its policing, have been long-lasting.

In 2016 the UK Government considered the case for establishing an Inquiry or independent review into the events that occurred in June 1984 at one of the strike's main flashpoints, Orgreave Coking Plant in South Yorkshire. In October 2016, however the then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, announced that there was not sufficient basis to instigate either a statutory inquiry or an independent review.

In November 2016 the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson wrote to Ms Rudd to convey the Scottish Government's view that the UK Government should commission and appoint an independent UK-wide investigation into any political interference during the dispute.

In September 2017 Mr Matheson confirmed, in answer to a Parliamentary Question, that the Scottish Government was actively considering a way forward as regards commissioning an inquiry into issues around the policing of the 1984-85 miners' strike in Scotland.

Review activities

It is anticipated that the review's activities will include engaging proactively with those affected and other stakeholders, via face to face discussions, focus groups and/or public meetings. However, it will be for the Review Lead to determine how best to proceed, so far as consistent with remit of the review.

Information about the review's meetings and other activities will be published as it becomes available.

Anyone who believes that they have suffered a miscarriage of justice should contact the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.