A SCOTTISH Government consultation has found overwhelming support to pardon miners for criminal convictions they were given during the strikes in the 1980s.

The report is based on a mixture of responses from the public and organisations, and had a total of 366 responses.

The majority of respondents backed pardoning miners for both breach of the peace offences and breach of bail related to their part in the bitter industrial dispute.

Between 1984 and 1985 the strike pitted then prime minister Margaret Thatcher against Arthur Scargill, the Marxist leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

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There were clashes between police and striking miners across the country, with many miners complaining that officers taunted them and that there were many false arrests.

And now, the Scottish Government report has revealed sweeping support for those convictions to be erased.

The consultation asked the public for their views on pardoning miners who were convicted for breach of the peace - of which 87% of respondents said they agreed that they should.

The report says that respondents had a widespread view that the “specific circumstances of the strike justified the pardoning of miners”.

The reasons given for this were that miners had been fighting to protect their jobs, livelihood, families and communities via “lawful strike action” and that it represented a time in history when strikers felt “desperate”.

The National:

The miners strike in the 80s saw clashes across the country

Other views suggest that the government’s response to the strike, under Margaret Thatcher, was “politically motivated” and the policing “heavy handed”.

It was also pointed out that in many cases the convictions were “out of character” for the individual involved.

One individual wrote: “For many individuals, myself included, it was their one and only conviction, it's preposterous to suggest that hundreds of people who had previously been law abiding citizens would suddenly become criminals.”

There was also a widespread view that breach of the peace convictions were “made up” or based on “false, untruthful” evidence - or that the action was provoked by the police.

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Another individual responded explained: “Many miners were picked out at random from picket lines and charged with breach of the peace when in fact they had done nothing wrong, a tactic used by police to reduce and disperse pickets.

“The easiest charge to lay was BoP [breach of the peace].”

However, some respondents did argue that the “law of the day had to be upheld” and the circumstances of the strike were not relevant in considering pardons.

The consultation also asked for views on pardoning miners who had been convicted of a breach of bail - and 86% of respondents said that they should.

The main issue for respondents here was the circumstances of the original charges that led to bail were “unsafe” and part of a “politically motivated strategy”.

The National:

The report showed an overwhelming amount of support to pardon miners

According to the report, it was most often said that the individual affected should not have been charged in the first place or should not have been on bail in the first instance.

Bail conditions imposed by courts were described as “unfair”, “ridiculous” and “draconian” in the report.

One organisation who took part in the consultation, but is not named, said that many of those miners arrested on the picket line were NUM officials or activists.

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They said: “Their arrests, their convictions, and the bail conditions imposed on them by the criminal law had the intended effect of depriving them of their right as trade unionists to participate in collective action in their lawful industrial dispute and neutered their efforts to succeed in their aim of protecting their jobs, their industry and their community.”

The use of bail conditions as a way of preventing participation in strike activities was recognised by the independent review.

You can read the full Miners’ Strike 1984/85 Pardon Consulation here.