East Lothian’s politicians have welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to pardon miners convicted during the 1984-85 strike.
An independent review, chaired by human rights lawyer John Scott QC, proposed that those convicted of breach of the peace and similar offences be pardoned.
Kenny MacAskill, East Lothian MP, said: “I was delighted at the announcement in the Scottish Parliament of a pardon for many miners convicted during the strike in the 1980s.
“I recall those events well and was involved in obtaining welfare benefits for strikers’ families, as well as representing some who were charged with criminal offences.
“My experiences then were largely in West Lothian and Fife, but the pain and hardship were similar in many East Lothian towns and villages.
“Many men suffered significant hardship. Arrest was often random and conviction led to automatic dismissal.
“That had an effect on pension rights and other benefits, irrespective of years of service in an industry that was draining and sometimes even life-shortening.”
Iain Gray MSP said: “I sincerely welcome the Scottish Government’s acceptance of the Scott Review’s findings and their intention to legislate to deliver the long-awaited justice for the men who were convicted during the strike.
“However, many of those who lived with the stain of a conviction they should never have received have sadly already passed away without having had the opportunity of clearing their names.”
Councillor Norman Hampshire, depute leader of East Lothian Council, said: “I welcome this decision, although it will never heal the scars still felt by many families in East Lothian who suffered severely during the long strike trying to save their jobs.”
National Union of Miners (NUM) Scotland president Nicky Wilson has said the decision “removes a stigma that has lasted for 36 years”.
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, has also welcomed news that Scottish miners convicted during the year-long strike in the 1980s are to be pardoned by the Scottish Government.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf MSP made the announcement in Holyrood following the publication of an independent review into the matter.
It is believed about 1,400 miners were arrested across Scotland and more than 500 were convicted.
The pardons scheme will require new legislation to be introduced by the Government and passed by the Scottish Parliament in due course.
Mr Beattie said: “A great number of local miners from Midlothian and East Lothian have suffered for years due to the excessive convictions handed out during the strike.
“The strike may have taken place 35 years ago, but there is still much anger in many of our communities about how the miners were treated – and rightly so.
“For decades, hundreds of men and their families have had to deal with the consequences of the strike and their heavy convictions.
“This collective pardon also applies posthumously and is clear evidence of the SNP Government’s aim to right a historic wrong.”
Mr Yousaf said: “The pardon is intended to acknowledge the disproportionate impact arising from miners being prosecuted and convicted during the strike – such as the loss of their job. It will also recognise the exceptional circumstances that resulted in former miners suffering hardship and the loss of their good name through their participation in the strike. It is also vital to acknowledge that many officers involved in policing the strike found it an incredibly difficult time – being rooted in their communities and having family members who were miners.”