Why was Orgreave inquiry rejected?

Campaigners from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign on College Green, London, Image copyright PA
Image caption Campaigners from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign outside Parliament

Kevin Horne, one of the former miners whose life changed for ever on 18 June 1984, was visibly shaking when trying to process the announcement from the home secretary on Monday that there would not be an inquiry into what happened in Orgreave that day.

In disbelief, he said that Theresa May had told him "she was listening, they were the government that had done the Hillsborough inquiry".

"Maybe I was naive," Mr Horne said, but he had come to believe that Theresa May, and then Amber Rudd, were going to commit to a full public inquiry into the events of that day.

He and the other Orgreave campaigners who had come to Westminster to hear the home secretary speak were devastated by the decision, but vowed to keep going, to keep pushing politicians to open a serious investigation.

The Home Office is adamant that they never made such a promise, and that Amber Rudd considered the information carefully before coming to her conclusion.

But it's still not clear what happened between the campaigners' last meeting with her and Monday's statement. Sources did clearly indicate in September that some form of inquiry was on the cards. But was the decision to junk the idea actually taken long before?

Image copyright PA
Image caption Thousands of miners and around 6,000 police officers clashed at the Orgreave coking site near Rotherham in June 1984

Intentionally or not, the prime minister - when she was still home secretary - raised expectations of an inquiry in a speech she gave at the Police Federation.

When talking about the Hillsborough inquiry which had just concluded, campaigners believed Mrs May implied Orgreave would be next.

She said then, there could not be anyone in policing "who does not now understand the need to face up to the past and right the wrongs that continue to jeopardise the work of police officers today.

"Because historical inquiries are not archaeological excavations. They are not purely exercises in truth and reconciliation.

"They do not just pursue resolution; they are about ensuring justice is done…We must never underestimate how the poison of decades-old misdeeds seeps down the years and it is just as toxic today as it was then."

But I'm told that by the time she moved into Number 10 in July, just a couple of months later, Theresa May had come to the view that a full public inquiry into the events at Orgreave was unlikely.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Home Secretary Amber Rudd rejected calls for a public inquiry

And in fact, at almost exactly the same time as she was accepting the Queen's invitation to become prime minister at Buckingham Palace on 13 July, a government minister in the Lords was indicating that it was not on the cards.

Once Theresa May was safely installed as PM, a public inquiry into the Orgreave clash was not something Number 10 planned for.

What had changed? Why did Amber Rudd even go on considering the case if the prime minister had more or less reached a view?

Sources say the government believed that it was still appropriate for Ms Rudd to take another look at the request from campaigners, when she took over as the new home secretary, and that she considered all the evidence carefully and heard the families' testimonies.

They insist the final decision was made by her, and not the PM. But, if it was clear that her new boss didn't believe an inquiry was a priority, how likely was it really that she would have disagreed?

MPs who back the campaigners are not giving up. This afternoon the new chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Yvette Cooper, has demanded more information from the Home Office, the independent police watchdog the IPCC and South Yorkshire Police.

The inquiry may well now never happen, but some MPs are determined to get more information not just about what happened at Orgreave, but also how the government made its mind up.