Calls for review into Scots miners’ convictions

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LABOUR leader Johann Lamont today called on justice minister Kenny MacAskill to review the convictions of the hundreds of Scottish miners who were jailed during the miners’ strikes in the 1980s.

The Scotsman previously reported that Labour’s David Hamilton MP and Neil Findlay MSP had written to Mr MacAskill and police, demanding a “full, independent and comprehensive review” of the convictions of nearly 500 Scottish strikers.

Johann Lamont has called on Kenny MacAskill to review the convictions. Picture: Jane Barlow

Johann Lamont has called on Kenny MacAskill to review the convictions. Picture: Jane Barlow

However, Scottish Labour leader Ms Lamont stepped into the row as she called on Mr MacAskill to reconsider a decision he made last year not to review the convictions of miners.

Ms Lamont said: “The more information that we see coming forward on the Miners’ Strike, the more questions are raised. In Scotland the level of arrests was proportionality much higher than in the rest of the UK and many of those affected believe they were victims of a miscarriage of justice.

“The next Scottish Labour Government would hold an inquiry into the strike in Scotland straight away and I urge Kenny MacAskill to do the honourable thing and commit to holding a review now.”

Ms Lamont’s call came after Labour at Westminster asked UK ministers to make a formal apology for the actions of the Conservative government during the 1984/85 strike, which led to mass pit closures.

Labour claims recently secret cabinet documents released earlier this month, under the 30-year rule, revealed a secret plan to shut 75 mines over three years.

Scottish Labour MP David Hamilton - a former miner who spent two months in jail on remand during the 1984/85 strike before being cleared, today criticised the handling of the dispute by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government.

He said: “I hope the 30 year rule, allowing us to see government documents, will put right the wrong that Thatcher imposed on the Miner’s and the true facts be exposed. She and her government destroyed communities throughout the UK and an apology is the least that the striking miners and their families deserve. Regrettably some good comrades are not with us today to hear it but my belief is that it would give their families some vindication”.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Within our justice system, we have important safeguards in place to consider allegations of criminality and misconduct that might have given rise to miscarriages of justice.

“We have long established procedures for complaints against the police to be investigated which include independent investigation by both the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Police and Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC).

“More generally, where anyone thinks they have suffered a miscarriage of justice, they can approach the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to ask that they refer the case back to court for a further appeal to be heard.

“We have robust procedures in place within our justice system and these should be used in the appropriate way.

“It would not be appropriate for the Scottish Government to offer a view on specific cases.”