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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 18:25 GMT
Howells' strike papers admission - inquiry
Kim Howells
Kim Howells burned NUM records during strike in a 'panic'
Police are to investigate after Transport Minister Kim Howells admitted that he destroyed union records while working as an NUM official during the miners' strike.

Dr Howells makes the admission in a BBC documentary, saying he was worried the police would use the death of a taxi driver during the dispute as an excuse to raid the office of the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM).

David Wilkie died when two striking miners dropped a concrete block from a south Wales bridge onto his taxi as he took miners to work under escort in November1984.

Although the death was not related to any union work, Mr Howells felt the police would use the incident as an excuse to raid the its offices in Pontypridd and get hold of their plans for running the strike.

South Wales Police have said they are liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service over the claims by the Pontypridd MP who was a full-time official for South Wales area of the NUM during the 1984-5 strike.

And I remember thinking, 'I've got to get to that office and I've got to destroy everything,' which I did.
Dr Kim Howells

In the documentary Dr Howells reveals how he got a telephone call from a journalist telling him of Mr Wilkie's death as he was making himself a cup of tea.

"And I remember for only the second time in my life my knees began to shake because I thought 'hang on, we've got all those records we've kept over in the NUM offices, there's all those maps on the wall, we're gonna get implicated in this'," he says.

"And I remember thinking, 'I've got to get to that office and I've got to destroy everything,' which I did. I've never told anybody that before."

In the interview Dr Howells also speaks of his "sense of revulsion" at the taxi driver's death.

"I felt physically sick that someone had died as the result of the action of one of our members."

Police during miners' strike
Howells feared police would raid NUM offices and seize strike plans

In the interview, he stressed that the sole motive for his actions was to protect the union's strategy when planning their legal right to picket.

The minister said that when Mr Wilkie was killed in November 1984 the strike had been going on for a long time and passions were running high among NUM members about miners who were abandoning the strike and returning to work.

Two men were convicted of Mr Wilkie's murder, a charge later reduced to manslaughter. They were released from jail in 1989.

"The Miners' Strike" will be shown on Tuesday 2100-2230 GMT, on BBC TWO.

Dr Kim Howells
16 Oct 02  |  Politics


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