HUNDREDS of miners convicted during the bitter strike in the 1980s are to be pardoned, the Scottish Government has announced. 

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed the move in a statement to MSPs in Holyrood.

He said the scars still run deep three decades on, and the collective pardon will apply posthumously as well as to those still living.

Mr Yousaf said: "The Scottish Government will right the wrong done to our miners."

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who has long campaigned on the issue, welcomed the move and insisted: "The demand for justice does not diminish through time."

Speaking in Holyrood, he said: "If the pubs were open, I'd be going for a pint tonight. But I'll have a few beers at home instead."

It follows an independent review led by John Scott QC into convictions for offences during the 1984/85 strike.

Mr Scott recommended that, subject to establishing suitable criteria, the Scottish Government should introduce legislation to pardon those convicted for breach of the peace or similar offences. 

Millions of people protested against pit closures during the industrial dispute with Margaret Thatcher's government.

In Scotland, around 14,000 miners went on strike and approximately 1,400 were arrested, with more than 500 convicted.

Around 200 were sacked, 30% of the total number of UK dismissals.

Campaigners said the convictions effectively "blacklisted" those taking part in the strike from future employment.

Several former miners gathered outside Holyrood ahead of the statement.

Mr Scott's report noted: "The impact of convictions went beyond the men affected, touching their families and communities, both in terms of the financial consequences of dismissal and unemployment, as well as confidence in the police, judiciary and the state."

It said the National Coal Board management in Scotland "did not appear to be fair or consistent in its policy of dismissal, with many miners being dismissed for relatively minor offences, only some reinstated and some not re-instated despite industrial tribunals finding in their favour".

The pardons scheme will require new legislation to be introduced by the Scottish Government and passed by Holyrood.

Mr Yousaf said: “There is no doubt that many miners suffered great hardship because of the strike and convictions arising from it.

"Although the strike took place some 35 years ago, it is clear from conversations I have had with many miners the pain they feel is still very raw to this day.

“This collective pardon also applies posthumously and symbolises our desire for truth and reconciliation, following the decades of hurt, anger and misconceptions which were generated by one of the most bitter and divisive industrial disputes in living memory.

“The pardon is intended to acknowledge the disproportionate impacts arising from miners being prosecuted and convicted during the strike – such as the loss of their job. 

"Subject to Parliament’s approval of legislation, it will also recognise the exceptional circumstances that resulted in former miners suffering hardship and the loss of their good name through their participation in the strike.

“It is also vital to acknowledge that many officers involved in policing the strike found it an incredibly difficult time – being rooted in their communities and having family members who were miners."

Mr Yousaf said the Scottish Government will bring forward legislation which would "give a collective pardon to miners convicted for matters related to the strike".

This would run in a similar manner to the pardons issued by the Armed Forces Act 2006, he said, which recognised the exceptional circumstances of soldiers convicted of cowardice during the First World War.

The pardon would not require individuals to apply, and the government would "consider carefully" the nature of the legislation.

Mr Scott's review was announced in June 2018.

He said: “This strike was different – for miners it was about communities defending their way of life, their jobs, and their future.

"More than three decades on, the question posed for us was how best to learn from this period, to aid the community as a whole – importantly, including the policing community – in understanding, reconciliation and inclusion.

“In many meetings, including eight in mining communities in 2018, we were privileged to meet and hear from many of those who are still affected by the strike – miners, police officers and the families of both."

Nicky Wilson, president of the National Union of Mineworkers (Scotland), said: “These miners were involved in a strike to fight to protect their jobs, industry and financial wellbeing of their communities, and many lost their jobs and futures through being arrested.

"The fact the Scottish Government has taken this decision to correct this longstanding wrong lends weight to the argument that a UK-wide inquiry must now be set up in order the same justice is given to our colleagues in England and Wales who were similarly treated wrongly.”

Iain Livingstone, Chief Constable of Police Scotland said: “The miners’ strike of 1984/85 was a time of great disruption and hardship in mining communities and indeed across all of Scotland.

"Policing has always been of and from our communities. During the miners’ strike, though many officers demonstrated compassion and commitment to public service in challenging circumstances, injustices arose.

“Discharging our duties with fairness, integrity and respect is vital to the bond of trust between policing and the citizens we serve.

"We will always value that relationship and the public consent from which we draw our authority."