In 2018, the Scottish Government commissioned an independent review into the impact of policing on affected communities during the miners' strike 1984/85 ("the Strike"). The Strike was one of the most bitter and divisive industrial disputes in living memory. The purpose of the review was to provide an opportunity to those who were affected by the Strike to share their experiences, as a means to aid understanding and reconciliation - and to help heal wounds.
With that purpose in mind - and drawing on the powerful testimonies provided by former miners, police officers and mining communities - the review group produced a report which made a single recommendation, that subject to establishing suitable criteria, the Scottish Government should introduce legislation to pardon miners convicted for certain matters related to the Strike.
The Scottish Government recognised that this would be a collective pardon, which would apply posthumously and to those living, symbolising a desire for truth and reconciliation, following the decades of hurt and anger and misconceptions. The pardon would also bring a restoration of dignity to a number of miners, their families and their communities.
Therefore, I announced last October that the Scottish Government accepted the recommendation in principle and would consult widely on what the qualifying criteria should be for the pardon. I also made clear that in accepting the recommendation, the Scottish Government should not be seen as intending to cast any doubt on decisions made by the judiciary.
I fully recognise the need to make swift progress on this matter, given the passage of time since 1984/85. That is why we have acted quickly to publish this consultation now.
This consultation paper sets out potential criteria - based on the criteria suggested in the independent report - and asks for your views. It is important that we have a rationale for the qualifying criteria which is well-thought through and informed by a range of views. That is why I would encourage all of you with an interest in the Strike to take this opportunity to have your say. The responses to the consultation will help shape the legislation which will be necessary to give effect to the pardon.
I look forward to hearing your views.
Humza Yousaf, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Justice
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