Ex-miners with strike convictions '˜should receive pardons'

Ex-miners with convictions should receive pardons similar to the ones that will soon be handed out to gay men by the Scottish Government, according to campaigners.

Police officers and miners tussle outside Bilston Glen colliery in June 1984. Picture: TSPL

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has announced plans to pardon gay men convicted of homosexual offences under old laws.

But Labour MSP Neil Findlay said this move means there is nothing to prevent ministers doing the same for Scottish miners convicted during the strike between 1984 and 1985.

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The Scottish Government has previously rejected any calls to review the convictions of nearly 500 miners dating back to the strike.

Ministers have said individuals would have to lodge their own appeals against their convictions with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC).

But Mr Findlay, who supports the pardon for gay men, said that the decision had been made without reference to the SCCRC.

He said: “The Scottish Government has rightly taken this stance in issuing these pardons to ensure that a historical wrong is righted.

“But it has done so, again rightly, with no reference to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.

“Now that a precedent has been set there should be no barrier to address the historic injustice of convictions of miners during the 1984-85 strike.”

In a letter to Mr Matheson, Mr Findlay has said: “I write to offer my full support for your plans to pardon men convicted of same-sex sexual activity on the basis of outdated and homophobic laws.

“I think this is a very positive and very just move.

“My understanding is that this pardon will be a general one and that there will be no need for cases to be referred to Police Scotland nor the [SCCRC] for their consideration - again I fully support this.

“Given the action you have taken on the issue of [historical] homosexual convictions I would now urge you to take similar action and pardon miners arrested during that dispute.

“As you will no doubt be aware these men believe they were victims of a miscarriage of justice and were targeted for arrest by the police under the direction of the then Tory government.

“These were unjust and politically motivated arrests and remain a stain on the record of the individuals concerned and the wider mining community.

“I would therefore ask you to look at these convictions in a similar light to the case of [historical] homosexual convictions and take action to pardon or quash these convictions.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Plans to pardon men convicted of same-sex sexual activity which is now lawful reflect the fact that these laws were discriminatory.

“This differs from the convictions of people during the miners’ strike where it is alleged convictions were wrongful because it is suggested people did not commit the offences for which they were convicted.”