SCOTTISH Labour leadership contender Richard Leonard has vowed to launch his own inquiry into the policing of the 1984-85 Miners' Strike if the SNP Government refuses to do so.

Leonard's pledge came after justice secretary Michel Matheson said he was still considering the issue.

The Labour MSP said that if the minister ruled against a probe, he would initiate one himself.

He said that if he was elected as Scottish Labour leader, the party would commission its own review as an opposition party.

Leonard said a decision was overdue on the strike that saw nearly 500 former Scottish miners left with criminal records that campaigners claim were unsafe and politically motivated.

He has now has written to Matheson urging him to order an immediate Hillsborough-style inquiry into the dispute in Scotland.

Leonard would appoint senior legal professionals to conduct a public inquiry, that would take evidence from witnesses, it is understood.

He said: "How long do they have to wait for justice to be done – the SNP Government has left people waiting so long that there are now miners going to their graves without this issue being resolved.

"This is not right. The Scottish Government should immediately initiate an inquiry into the policing of the 1984-85 miners’ strike.

"But let me be clear, if they continue to refuse to act, as Scottish Labour leader I would act by working with our former mining communities to support a public-led inquiry.

Matheson held private talks last December with campaigners including former miners, lawyers representing them and Labour MSP Neil Findlay.

Last month, Matheson told MSPs that he had "actively been considering a way forward" after he was asked by Findlay about historic miscarriages of justice during the strike.

In response to Leonard, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: "We have already made clear that the main source of injustice felt by miners was the actions of the then-UK Government and it is for them to answer claims of political interference.

“The Scottish Government has been considering a number of legal and procedural questions which have emerged around this matter and the Justice Secretary informed Parliament last month that he will confirm his decision on a way forward shortly.”

Leonard's intervention comes ahead of a visit to Scotland by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn this week.

Corbyn is to speak at an event for party supporters in Edinburgh on Friday.

The Labour leader is also due to address a conference organised by Unite the Union in Aviemore on Saturday.