ONLY two former police officers have spoken in public to the inquiry on how policing affected Scottish communities during the miners’ strike.

The low-turnout, a sign of the lasting bitterness around the dispute, is revealed in the interim report of the independent review, which also said its final findings would be delayed from June to August.

The atmosphere at public hearings was “not necessarily conducive for retired police officers to share their experience and recollections,” it admitted.

The situation has forced the review to rely on written evidence and private meetings with former officers instead.

READ MORE: Independent review ordered into policing during the 1980s miners' strike

Encouraged by the Retired Police Officers Association Scotland, some retired senior officers directly involved in policing the strike came forward, with a further meeting due this month.

The investigation was set up under Solicitor Advocate John Scott QC last June to report on the impact of police tactics during the strike of 1984 and 1985.

The period remains infamous for heavy-handed police action against pickets as Tory PM Margaret Thatcher fought the National Union of Mineworkers led by Arthur Scargill.

The review’s interim report said 167 people attended eight public meetings late last year in Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire, Fife, Lanarkshire, Midlothian, Stirlingshire and West Lothian.

It said: “We heard powerful and moving testimony from individuals and their families who had been very badly affected by the strike, especially those who were arrested, charged, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced.

“Many lost their jobs, with their employers appearing to take a policy decision to dismiss regardless of the gravity of the allegation or the penalty imposed.

“Some of these men secured employment elsewhere, sometimes quickly but sometimes only after years. Some, especially because of having to declare their conviction, were unable to find other jobs. For some individuals and their families, the lasting damage was obvious.”

It added: “At these meetings, perhaps unsurprisingly, very few speakers identified themselves as retired police officers although two speakers did so, and their contributions assisted in addressing some of the issues which recurred as themes at all of the meetings.”

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The review also took more than 100 written submissions, including from miners and officers.

SNP Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, who agreed to a short extension to allow the review to write up its findings, said: “Scotland is leading the way in ensuring the experiences of those affected by the policing of the dispute in the 1980s are properly heard and understood.

"I welcome the interim report and in particular the positive engagement undertaken with key individuals, representative organisations and those employed in the mining industry and police at the time, their wider families and communities.

“A final report, setting out lessons learnt and making recommendations for any other action required, will follow at the end of the summer and be made publicly available.

“It is important that we recognise the generous contributions made to the review by those who were affected. I want this review to bring openness, understanding and a degree of closure to all those involved.”

Mr Scott added: “When we started our work on this important review, we decided that we should seek out as much direct evidence as possible from those who were involved in, and affected by, the miners’ strike."

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Labour MSP Neil Findlay, whose campaigning helped secure the review, said: “

Mining communities across Britain suffered at the hands of politicised and often brutal policing as Margaret Thatcher and her Tory Government used the power of the state to crush working people.

“The review of these convictions should consider pardons to ensure those who were wrongly convicted finally get justice."

Green MSP John Finnie MSP added: “There’s a clear link between the concerns being addressed by this group and the ongoing disquiet about UK undercover police officers who spied on countless political campaigns, stealing citizens’ identities along the way.

“I believe the Scottish Government should take a similar approach with those matters and instigate a public inquiry into historic UK undercover policing in Scotland, similar to the Pitchford Inquiry in England and Wales, and I urge Mr Yousaf to do so urgently.”