ON the face of it there is a strong argument for pardoning some of those convicted of offences during the 1984 and 1985 miners strike.

There is broad agreement among historians of this bitter dispute that the Government, police and the courts colluded to a degree in the face of the bitter industrial dispute. Ministers pressed chief constables across the country to adopt a “more vigorous interpretation of their duties” and, as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher backed moves to speed up the prosecution of miners arrested. Dubious bail ‘deals’ were offered if ringleaders accepted bans on picketing.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has concluded there is evidence the police in South Yorkshire assaulted miners, committed perjury and perverted the course of justice. In Scotland around 500 miners were arrested, mostly at Bilston Glen near Loanhead, some charged over minor scuffles and pushing on picket lines. Most had no previous convictions.

The current independent review of the strike’s policing in Scotland could be an opportune moment to offer pardons in such cases.

It has been argued that a precedent has been set by offering to ‘pardon’ gay men convicted of offences related to homosexuality. But the equivalence is false. These pardons are symbolic in nature. Those affected have to seek to have their conviction disregarded if they wish it to be truly expunged. And the laws under which homosexual relations were punished are now deemed to be in themselves wrong and discriminatory. This does not apply to those convicted during the miners’ strike, some of whom were guilty of serious criminal behaviour.

Undoubtedly there were miscarriages of justice, with often far reaching results - marriages were wrecked phones tapped, decent citizens criminalised, homes were lost. There is a case for convictions to be reviewed, but should this happen there should be no blanket pardons. Individual cases should be considered on their merits.