Thatcher government feared miners' strike police probe would prompt 'witch hunt'

Margaret Thatcher's government feared a "witch hunt" would ensue if a public inquiry was held into policing during the miners' strike, newly declassified files reportedly show.

Leon Brittan, then Home Secretary, told a 1985 meeting that the "Government should not encourage any form of enquiry into the behaviour of the police", the BBC reported.

He believed an inquiry into picket line tactics during the 1984-85 strike would "turn into a witch hunt" with an "anti-police bias", according to 18 files released to the National Archive.

The documents were released after Home Secretary Amber Rudd ruled out an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave, where thousands of miners clashed with police at a coking plant in South Yorkshire.

Police deployed horseback charges and baton-wielding "snatch squads" as 6,000 officers tried to prevent striking miners blocking deliveries to the plant.

South Yorkshire Police received heavy criticism over its conduct.

The force was also required to pay compensation following the collapse of cases after 95 people were charged with riot and violent disorder.

Further files are expected to be released as Ms Rudd previously said a total of 30 files would be made public.