Former miners urged to speak out about miners’ strike

Some miners are injured after rebel miners cross the pickeLIne at Bilston Glen colliery in Midlothian in March 1984.  �The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk
Some miners are injured after rebel miners cross the pickeLIne at Bilston Glen colliery in Midlothian in March 1984. �The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

The lawyer probing the police response to the miners’ strike in Scotland in the 1980s has urged former miners and communities to speak out about their experiences.

There were a disproportionate number of arrests in Scotland during the year-long UK-wide strike which began in March 1984. Some of those arrested were sacked and never worked again after the strike which took its toll on their families and the wider community, according to John Scott QC.

The dispute included violent clashes between the police and strikers, including at Bilston Glen.

An independent review of how communities were affected was set up by the Scottish Government earlier this year. It is estimated that 500 Scottish miners were arrested, with Scotland seeing 30 per cent of the arrests during the disputes despite only having 10 per cent of the UK’s mining workforce.

Mr Scott told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “There are people who are still affected by it. There were men who were arrested, men who were convicted – who were then sacked and who didn’t ever manage to get another job.

“In some of the smaller communities in particular, the knock on effect with their families, and then on the town or village itself – many, many people were affected and suffered as a result.”

Mr Scott will be assisted during the review by an advisory panel made up of former MP and MSP Dennis Canavan, Jim Murdoch, a professor of public law at the University of Glasgow, and former Assistant Chief Constable Kate Thomson.

Lothian MSP Neil Findlay (Lab) said: “This is welcome progress and a first step towards the justice miners and the Scottish mining communities deserve.

“More than 30 years after the strike of 1984/85 and following three decades of campaigning by many people, we now have an independent review, led by John Scott QC, calling for those involved to give evidence.

“This is, I hope, a significant step forward in the fight for justice and the truth about what actually happened in Scotland during that period.

“I would urge anyone with any information to come forward and contribute to this important process.”

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson (SNP) announced the inquiry in June, insisting that the probe was not anti-police but that it was “high time” that what communities endured was understood.