Miners convicted during strikes 'should be given automatic pardon'

A Scottish Government committee said issuing pardons would go some way to providing justice to families.

People convicted during 1980s miners’ strikes in Scotland ‘should get automatic pardon’ iStock

Miners convicted of offences during the 1984-85 strike should be given an automatic pardon in a bid to heal divides in former mining committees, a committee has said.

The equalities, human rights and civil justice committee announced on Friday that it was backing plans by the Scottish Government to provide a blanket pardon for those convicted of certain offences during the strike.

A report published on Friday said the move would help right the wrongs that many communities suffered during the strike and would go some way to providing justice for families affected.

Draft legislation of The Miners Strike (Pardons) (Scotland) Bill previously said those convicted of breach of the peace, breach of bail conditions or obstructing police during the miners strikes should be pardoned.

Friday’s report added that miners convicted of participating in picket lines, attended demonstrations and other gatherings supporting the strikes should also be pardoned, alongside those convicted of travelling to or from a picket line or demonstration. 

The committee report acknowledged the impact convictions had on those affected, including loss of income due to redundancy. loss of employment rights such as pensions and future employment prejudiced by conviction. 

However, the committee said that as many of the issues around compensation are reserved to the UK Government, implementing a compensation scheme in Scotland would create practical difficulties that would delay the passage of the Bill.

Therefore the committee said it did not believe the Bill is the “appropriate mechanism” for delivering compensation.

The Scottish Government has previously called on the UK Government to undertake a full public inquiry into the miners’ strike and the committee added it would like to see options for compensation for miners and their families reconsidered.

Such an investigation, the committee report notes, is long overdue and the most appropriate method would be as part of a full public inquiry by the UK Government.

Committee convener Joe FitzPatrick MSP said: “The miners’ strike left a lasting psychological and economic impact on communities across Scotland. The effects of which are still felt to this day.

“Having heard first-hand about the stigma and pain experienced by those who took part in the strike, we believe an automatic pardon will go some way to providing justice for families affected.

“The committee recommend that the general principles of the Bill are agreed to and we look forward to hearing more from the Scottish Government about what further work it plans to undertake to continue to help rebuild these communities.”

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