Monday in Westminster

I don’t often cover many events on a Monday, perhaps because not a lot usually happens. Sometimes too, after a busy weekend I need a rest. While most people think of Mon-Fri as the working week, Saturday is almost always my busiest day. I used to cover quite a few events on Sundays too, but now I’m more often in need of a rest after Saturday, and often, like this morning, still have pictures from yesterday to edit from the previous day, having fallen asleep at the computer and decided to give up for the night. But even so, unless there is something I feel important to cover, I still tend to keep Monday as one of my days off.

And Orgreave Truth & Justice at the Home Office on Monday 13th March was something I felt important, protesting at the failure of Home Secretary Amber Rudd not to grant an inquiry into the ‘Battle of Orgreave’ in which police, including military police and others in police uniforms, mounted a carefully planned attack on picketing miners.

Thatcher had determined to defeat the miners, and on 18 June 1984 at a British Steel Corporation coking plant in Orgreave, South Yorkshire showed just what illegal lengths the establishment was willing to go to in order to defeat the workers. And many have little doubt that our present government would be prepared to take similar actions, though mostly it gets by with more subtle means.

Perhaps the main hope of a proper inquiry into Orgreave is that we may get a Corbyn Labour government, though I’m not convinced that they will have the nerve or ability to challenge those areas of the establishment that are against getting to the truth – and would also be busily plotting against any radical initiatives by a mildly left social democratic Labour administration.

Two other campaigns for justice were also out on the street in Westiminster, one linked to the Orgreave protest. JENGbA had come to support the Orgreave protest, but had started with an action of their own outside the Supreme Court. JENGbA stands for Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association, and I’ve always thought the name it has adopted stood in the way of it actually making progress – how many people would have the slightest idea what JENGbA stood for? Despite this, they won a significant victory in 2015, when the SUpreme Court ruled that the joint enterprise law under which over 800 people are in jail had been wrongly applied, and that there must be actual evidence of intention to encourage or assist in a crime rather than some vague association.

But JENGbA have found – like other groups such as disabled people – that it is one thing to win in court and quite another to get the Home Office to correct the injustice. And those held in jail because the law was wrongly applied, many serving life sentences on the flimsiest of suspicions, have been refused appeals. After their protest outside the Supreme Court they marched to join the Orgreave protest outside the Home Office.

Quite separate from this was a protest against the Met Police who were appealing against a high court decision that the human rights of two woman raped by black cab driver and serial sex attacker John Worboys in 2003 and 2007 were breached when police did not believe them and failed to investigate their cases. That the police should appeal the decision that they have an obligation to investigate such cases of serious violence is appalling – and makes me wonder what they think they are there for.

The protest was by Southall Black Sisters, End Violence Against Women Coalition, Nia Project and other women’s organisations who say in the police appeal succeeds there will be no effective remedy in the courts for women who are raped or victims of domestic violence.

Orgreave Truth & Justice at the Home Office
JENGbA march to support Orgreave
Women protest outside Worboys hearing


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