Time to clear our names

Picket line during the miners' strike
Picket line during the miners' strike

A NATIONAL campaign has been launched to clear the names of nearly 500 Scottish miners - including many in Fife - who were arrested during the 1984 strike.

Neil Findlay MSP and David Hamilton MP have called on Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to open an enquiry into police pratices in Scotland, after it was suggested statements in England may have been manipulated.

More than 1600 men were employed at Kirkcaldy’s Seafield Colliery, which was linked with Frances Colliery in Dysart at the time of the protracted nationwide strike.

Nicky Wilson, president of the NUM in Scotland, said the union is backing the campaign.

Collaboration

He said “This isn’t about targeting individual police officers because they had to obey order from superiors.

‘‘But we just want to see that there is proof, like we have always suspected, that there was a collaboration between the hierarchy of the National Coal Board, the government of the day and the police to remove miners from picket lines.”

Many of the men arrested were left with criminal records.

Nicky added: “Some had never been in trouble before.

‘‘They were hard working men just trying to support their industry - and many of them have never been in trouble again and have gone on to forge careers in other areas.

Stigmatised

“But they were still arrested and still stigmatised - it was a stain against their characters.”

Andrew Watson was one of the men faced a charge of the breach of the peace and at 18, he was the youngest miner in Scotland to be arrested.

“When I saw this on the news, my heart skipped a beat,” said Ballingry-based Andrew.

“The time is right for justice now. What happened to me was very unjust and this is long overdue.”

Nicky hopes that the campaign will lead to a full enquiry from the Scottish Government, and the truth can come to light.

“Even though it has been over 25 years, it doesn’t take away from the fact that miners were wrongfully arrested.”