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Terry Fields

MPs support miners

(November 1984)

From Militant, No. 726, 23 November 1984, p. 3.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“THAT THIS House strongly condemns the appalling police activities during the current miners’ dispute, notably in Yorkshire village of Fitzwilliam, in which nine young people were arrested for breaching the peace, and many others manhandled by the police; notes that this incident is unfortunately only one of many in which the police have behaved provocatively and excessively in mining areas, and which innocent people have been arrested on trumped-up charges; notes that bail conditions have been severely restrictive, making normal freedom of movement impossible; urges Her Majesty’s government to (i) effect an amnesty for those arrested or convicted in the present strike, (ii) end police occupation of, and withdraw all outside forces from, mining areas, (iii) act to ensure the re-instatement of those sacked through conviction or victimisation, (iv) introduce democratically elected police committees to oversee promotion, discipline, equipment and policing policy.”

This motion was put forward by Terry Fields MP for Liverpool Broadgreen. He also wrote the following letter to Home Secretary Leon Brittan:

12th November 1984

Dear Home Secretary

I am writing to protest about the activities of the police during the current miners’ dispute.

I want to refer in particular to the incidents which occurred in the Yorkshire village of Fitzwilliam, where dozens of riot police literally ran amok through the streets and the local pub. People, young and old, men and women, miners and non-miners, were indiscriminately beaten and altogether nine were arrested. As if this weren’t sufficient, stringent bail conditions were imposed on those arrested, which were designed to make it extremely difficult for them to pursue a normal life.

These nine young people are to be tried in Castleford on 3rd December, on charges of breaching the peace. As far as I am concerned, there was indeed a breach of the peace in Fitzwilliam on 9th July, but it was certainly not committed by those facing charges, but rather by the police.

I would not claim that Fitzwilliam is an isolated incident. On the contrary, I must protest about the constant mass deployment of police for purposes clearly quite different from that police are normally supposed to undertake. One example that particularly shocked me was that on August 20th, 1,500 escorted one working miner to work at Gascoigne Wood pit; while the very same day is was announced that only 500 men nationally had been detailed to hunt for ‘The Fox’, a perverted individual responsible for the rape of six women and who was widely presumed at large in Yorkshire.

I am certainly not opposed to the police catching criminals and protecting the community from crime in general. But thousands of miners and families, through their own recent experiences, are now permanently embittered towards the police. This will make the task of fighting crime in mining areas, once the strike is over, much more difficult.

I would therefore urge that you launch an immediate investigation into policing methods used during this strike, in the light of the very disturbing events at Fitzwilliam. I would also request that you direct that all charges against the ‘Fitzwilliam 9’ be dropped.


Yours sincerely
Terry Fields M.P.

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