Holyrood rejects calls for convicted miners inquiry

Roseanna Cunningham appeared at the debate. Picture: PA
Roseanna Cunningham appeared at the debate. Picture: PA
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THE SNP government rejected calls to hold a Hillsborough style inquiry into the convictions of striking miners from the bitter 1984-85 strike during a highly charged debate at Holyrood yesterday.

Ministers were told they had a “moral duty” to review the convictions of nearly 500 Scottish miners, who MSPs claimed had been convicted on bogus grounds.

But community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham encouraged miners to appeal against there convictions and said she would “strongly commend” the idea of individuals challenging their criminal records through an independent procedure.

The minister highlighted a report in Scotland on Sunday that leading law firm Thompsons is planning to take five test cases of miners to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) in a bid to quash the convictions.

Ms Cunningham said that she would welcome such an approach, which she claimed was “the right way to proceed” for miners wanting to overturn their convictions.

Campaigners say the strikers convictions may be “unsafe” and politically motivated – particularly for picket line offences, for which miners claim they were threatened with custodial sentences but offered less severe punishments if they accepted bail conditions that banned them from picketing.

Ms Cunningham echoed justice secretary Kenny MacAskill’s refusal to hold an inquiry into the convictions as she insisted that ministers “do not have powers to quash convictions”.

She also rejected a call from Labour MSP Neil Findlay for an investigation along similar lines to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans. Mr Findlay also attacked Mr MacAskill for not attending the debate.