Miners' strike 1984/85 pardon consultation: analysis of responses

Findings from the analysis of the responses received to the consultation, which ran from 12 March 2021 to 4 June 2021.

7. Further criteria and comments (Q12 and Q13)

7.1 Question 12: Are there any other criteria that should be added to those mentioned above? [Yes / No / Don’t know/No opinion]

7.2 Please explain your answer.

7.3 Question 13: Do you have any further comments that you would like to make concerning the criteria? If so, please use the box below.The consultation paper stated that as well as considering the criteria proposed by the independent review panel, the Scottish Government also wished to explore whether any additional criteria (additional to those identified by the independent review) should be considered in determining eligibility for a pardon. Part 5 of the consultation included a specific question on this issue (Question 12) and an additional question inviting any further comments about the criteria (Question 13).

7.4 There was a great deal of overlap in the views expressed at Question 12 and Question 13. As such, the comments for both these questions have been analysed together and are discussed in the sections below.

7.5 Question 12 asked respondents if they thought any other criteria should be added to those already mentioned in preceding questions. Although Question 12 in the consultation paper was a two-part question, no table is shown in this chapter for the responses to the closed part of the question. The analysis of the comments revealed little distinction between those who answered ‘yes’, ’no’ or ‘don’t know / no opinion’. As such, the results of the quantitative analysis do not contribute to an understanding of the views of respondents. The analysis presented here is based solely on the comments made.

7.6 Question 13 was an open question inviting respondents to provide any further comments that they would like to make concerning the criteria for a pardon.

7.7 The analysis below is based on respondents’ comments at both Questions 12 and 13. Altogether:

  • 65 respondents (57 individuals and 8 organisations) commented at Question 12. The campaign response did not include comments on this question.
  • 103 respondents (94 individuals and 9 organisations) commented at Question 13. The campaign response also included comments at Question 13.

7.8 The majority of comments at both of these questions were general in nature, often relating to views on the strike; the (perceived) motivation and conduct of different parties (i.e. miners, the National Union of Mineworkers, the police, the government) in the strike; the impact of the strike on miners, their families and communities; and overall support for or opposition to the proposed pardon, and the varied reasons for this. These comments often repeated points made at earlier questions, and so are not discussed here again. Instead, the analysis focuses on those comments made across both questions that are more directly related to the detail and operation of the proposed pardon. The analysis is presented under the following three headings: (i) the criteria for the pardon; (ii) the implementation of the pardon; and (iii) other possible measures sought by respondents.

The criteria for the pardon

7.9 For the most part, comments relating to the criteria for the pardon reflected points made in response to earlier questions. Most commonly, respondents expressed views on the appropriate scope of the pardon. Here, the dominant view was that the pardon should apply to all offences / all offences related to strike / all miners, or it should be designed as a ‘blanket pardon’. The options being considered by the government (and the recommendations of the independent review) were seen as ‘too narrow’ or ‘too restrictive’. Respondents in this group thought it was important that the pardon did not differentiate between miners in different circumstances:

‘Those men lost everything… How can you justify giving some a pardon and others not. It's all or nothing.’ (Individual respondent)

‘[The] criteria cannot be used to pick and choose specifics of who gets a pardon. Pardon one, pardon all.’ (Individual respondent)

7.10 Related to these points were the views that:

  • There should be ‘no criteria’ as this would lead to some being excluded.
  • There was a need for a ‘simplified’ approach, ensuring that ‘all convictions arising from the period of the miners' strike should be pardoned unconditionally’.

7.11 Indeed, one respondent said that they would prefer to see no pardon rather than a pardon that discriminated between miners:

‘I fully appreciate the intentions of the pardon, but I would ask that the pardon is not given. As a former sacked miner, I would argue that those who have campaigned for this never wanted the criteria attached or the effect and stigma on those miners who fail to meet the criteria of the pardon.’ (Individual respondent)

7.12 Less often, respondents used their comments at Questions 12 and 13 to restate their opposition to the proposed pardon.

7.13 In a few cases respondents repeated their views (discussed earlier in this report) on the types of offences that should be eligible or ineligible for a pardon, and how this might be reflected in the criteria for the pardon. These respondents mainly suggested that serious or violent offences (including violence against the police, and intimidation of working miners) should be excluded from the pardon, with one organisational respondent reiterating their view that the principal criterion should be ‘gravity of offence, not sentence’ and another organisation stating:

‘There must be criteria set as no matter what the background to the political situation was at the time, there is criminal conduct resulting in convictions that arose that should still remain inexcusable. It is about maintaining a balance in recognising the background to the strike that occurred over forty years ago and specifically, in the affected communities, given the challenging situations that arose and was highly divisive for many involved who found themselves on opposing sides.’ (Organisational respondent – legal)

7.14 Alternative views, also expressed by a few respondents, were that the pardon criteria should take account of the strength of evidence in a case or be restricted to cases where a miscarriage of justice had taken place.

7.15 One further issue raised in a range of comments at Questions 12 and 13 (and at other consultation questions), was the issue of who should be eligible for a pardon, with suggestions that the pardon should be extended to various categories of people who were not miners, but who may also have been convicted of strike-related offences. These included the wives or other members of miners’ families, other trade unionists, and members of the public who had taken action in support of the miners. There was also a specific call from a small group of legal and trade union respondents that the impact on ‘non-male members of the NUM’ should be considered. This group were concerned that the independent review recommendation explicitly referred to a pardon for men convicted for matters related to the strike.

7.16 Some respondents endorsed the Scottish Government’s stated intention that the pardon should apply posthumously.

7.17 Finally, there was a view (expressed by one organisational respondent) that the independent review recommendations should be implemented in full.

The implementation of the pardon

7.18 Some respondents commented on how the proposed pardon might be implemented.

7.19 In particular, there was a call for legislation relating to the proposed pardon to be brought forward early in the new parliamentary session. One organisational respondent noted the time that had elapsed since the end of the strike (37 years) and the fact that many of those affected would now be quite elderly, or may have passed away, and said:

‘It is therefore imperative that legislation should be introduced quickly to enable the pardons to take place as soon as possible’. (Organisational respondents - other)

7.20 In addition, one legal organisation stressed the need for:

  • Clarity about the process for securing a pardon and clarity about the criteria, including in relation to the timing of the strike, the definition of a miner and the definition of a strike-related offence
  • Effective publicity about the pardon, targeted at appropriate communities
  • Legal advice and assistance for those potentially eligible for a pardon (or their families) to ensure they understand the criteria, and the implications and effect of the pardon.

Other possible measures

7.21 Across Questions 12 and 13 (and again reflecting comments made in response to previous questions), some respondents who were broadly supportive of the proposed pardon made a range of suggestions relating to other action which they thought was merited, given the circumstances of the strike. There were, for example, a range of calls for:

  • Compensation for miners – including compensation for loss of job and earnings, the impact of ‘blacklisting’ as a result of involvement in the strike, the impact on miners’ lives following the end of strike, and for the way miners were treated during strike
  • The reinstatement of pension rights for sacked miners
  • The repayment of any fines paid by miners for strike-related offences, and compensation for imprisonment as a result of a strike-related convictions
  • The pardon to be extended to non-court disposals such as cautions

  • Miners convicted elsewhere in the UK of strike-related offences to be pardoned and / or a UK-wide inquiry into the policing of the national miners’ strike.

7.22 In addition, there was also a view, expressed by a small group of respondents, that the police and politicians should be held accountable for their actions during the strike – including through criminal prosecution. That notwithstanding, one respondent suggested that the ‘effective pardon’ extended to police officers involved in the strike who had not been held accountable for their conduct provided a ‘compelling reason why it is in the interests of fairness that the miners should now be pardoned unconditionally’ (311).

7.23 However, in contrast to the comments above, there were also occasional calls for an apology and / or compensation for police officers harmed or otherwise negatively affected by their involvement in the strike.


Email: minersstrikepardon@gov.scot

Back to top