A BARNSLEY MP has backed growing calls for a UK-wide inquiry into the miners’ strike following pressure from ex-workers who claim they were the victims of police cover-ups.

In March 1984, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) launched a strike in response to the plans of the National Coal Board (NCB) to close a number of pits.

The NCB claimed that it only wanted to close 20, but the NUM maintained - and subsequent events proved them right - that more than 70 pits were on the NCB’s hit-list.

In the decade after 1984 the coal-mining industry was effectively destroyed, according to coalfield MPs such as Barnsley East’s Stephanie Peacock, with devastating consequences for the miners, their families and their communities.

The latest controversy comes after government ministers again rejected proposals to supply an immediate £1.2bn cash boost to thousands of ex-miners involved in a controversial pension scheme - saying they believed arrangements were ‘fair and beneficial’.

The response to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee inquiry into the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme (MPS) was called a ‘slap in the face’ to those who toiled down the pits and their families.

The inquiry and report were heavily critical of the government’s actions in claiming at least £4bn from a pension pot for former miners, many of whom live with long-term illness and disabilities.

Steph said: “Mining once helped to sustain 30,000 jobs in my constituency of Barnsley East, and it formed the heart of many working-class communities across the coalfields.

“Those who suffered violence at the hands of the police, those wrongfully arrested and those whose reputations were publicly and politically tarnished still matter.

“It matters to all of us, too, because if we are to have trust in our institutions, we have to believe that wrongdoing and malpractice will be investigated and addressed.

“I pay tribute to all who have campaigned on this issue.

“I first called for justice in my maiden speech five years ago - since then, many miners have sadly passed away.

“We cannot wait any longer and the government should grant an inquiry now.”

However, Minister for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse, said the government ‘stand by’ the decision not to undertake an inquiry, made in October 2016 by former Home Secretary Amber Rudd, and later upheld in 2018 by Sajid Javid.

He told the Commons that the Home Office had released files held by the Department to the National Archives, and that South Yorkshire Police is in the process of reviewing its files to release them as well.

Mr Malthouse added: “I recognise the significance of the miners’ strike and its impact on mining communities throughout the United Kingdom, including those affected.

“Crucially, there have been significant changes to policing since then, including major reforms to criminal procedure, changes to public order policing and practice, stronger external scrutiny and greater local accountability.

“Progress has undoubtedly been made, but that is not to say that we are in any way complacent - on the contrary, we are constantly challenging the police to get better in all they do.

“We have overseen significant reform, and continue to drive improvements for the benefit of policing and those whom the police serve.”