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1984: Court fines Scargill for obstruction

VIDEO : Arthur Scargill condemns court's verdict and plans to appeal

Arthur Scargill has been found guilty of two charges of obstruction during a picket at a Yorkshire coal works earlier this year.

The mine workers' president was fined 250 and ordered to pay 750 in costs following a scuffle outside Orgreave Coal Works, near Sheffield, Yorkshire, on 30 May.

Mr Scargill was arrested as he led about 80 pickets to the plant on the fifth consecutive day of the strike action by miners in protest over the feared pit closures.

He tried to stop the column of miners along the path but police insisted the picket kept moving.

As Mr Scargill resisted he was arrested for obstruction.


"I anticipated the same kind of anti-working class judgement that has been the order of the day throughout this mining industrial dispute"

Arthur Scargill

Police responded quickly after the previous day's strikes had seen some of the most violent scenes in the protest.

The defence argued in court that any suggestions of manhandling during the scuffle, which lasted only 18 seconds, were a lie and that the arrest was "brazen, almost brutal".

It was argued police had taken action as part of a preconceived strategy to remove the miners' leader from the scene "almost at any cost".

But police defended their actions arguing they had to defuse a "potentially dangerous situation".

'Poor example'

Mr Scargill was told by magistrates his "actions demonstrated a very poor example for those he sought to lead".

Outside court Mr Scargill said his lawyers were advising him to appeal, although he later said he would not do so.

Speaking to reporters he said: "On the grounds that we presented to the court there was only one judgement which should have been given and that was not guilty."

He said the verdict was not surprising and reflected a prevailing attitude from authorities against the miners.

"I anticipated the same kind of anti-working class judgement that has been the order of the day throughout this mining industrial dispute."

Meanwhile the TUC met with government officials today to try to resolve the industrial dispute but with no progress.

In Context
The year-long miners' strike, from spring of 1984, ended without success when half the miners had given up and returned to work.

Many had not joined the picket in the first place as there was no union ballot for action.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher claimed victory over Mr Scargill and the defeat paved the way for a wider assault on trade union power by the Tories.

Some critics believe Mr Scargill was right to persist with the strikes in the defence of jobs later axed as the coal mining industry went into decline.

Others, however, condemned his refusal to compromise.

He remained president of the National Union of Mineworkers until August 2002 when he retired at the age of 64.


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