From the TUC

The Shrewsbury 24: Overturning a miscarriage of justice, 40 years on

01 Aug 2012, By

Ricky Tomlinson and supporters handing in the application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in Birmingham 3rd April 2012.

We all like anniversaries and this year there has been a lot said about events 40 years ago. There was the miners’ strike that led to power cuts and the “Battle of Saltley Gate”. The dock workers were fighting for jobs and 5 shop stewards were sent to Pentonville Prison in July 1972 for contempt of court. The TUC called a national strike and an obscure fellow called the Official Solicitor intervened and persuaded the court to release them.

These were all important memories for me but 1972 stands out as the year that myself and fellow building workers stood up against the mighty building trade employers to fight for better pay and safer working conditions.

Our industry had one of the worst records for serious injuries at work and was probably second only to the coal mining industry for fatalities. We were on strike for 12 weeks and eventually, in September 1972, we secured the highest pay increase in the history of the industry.

But it didn’t end there. Five months later the police arrested 24 of us from the North Wales area.

North Wales! We were hardly the centre of trade union militancy in Britain.  In October 1973 the first six of us appeared at Shrewsbury Crown Court and after a trial lasting ten weeks three of us were sent to prison for conspiracy to intimidate, affray and unlawful assembly. On appeal our convictions for affray were quashed but we still served our sentences:  I received 2 years, Des Warren 3 years and John McKinsie Jones got nine months.

Our crime was to take strike action and organise picketing, just as the miners and dockers had done earlier in the year.

A campaign has been established to highlight this miscarriage of justice and to clear our names. The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign has carried out extensive research into the case and has discovered fresh evidence about the decision to prosecute us. We believe that it demonstrates that there was political interference in bringing these charges against us and we are asking the Criminal Cases Review Commission to refer the cases back to the Court of Appeal. We have a leading human rights law firm, Bindmans, acting for us.

I would like to thank all the national and local trade union bodies, trades councils and individuals that have affiliated to the campaign. Full details of the campaign, the 1972 strike and the trials can be found on the website, as well as details of how to join us.

I have created a Downing Street e-petition calling upon the Government to release documents from this period which they are withholding on grounds of national security! Please sign it, and help us get this miscarriage of justice put straight after 40 years.

GUEST POST: Ricky Tomlinson is an actor, comedian and activist, famous for roles including Jim Royle in The Royle Family and Bobby Grant in Brookside.

10 Responses to The Shrewsbury 24: Overturning a miscarriage of justice, 40 years on

  1. Janice Warren
    Aug 1st 2012, 1:08 pm

    Clear the names of people wrongly imprisoned for exercising their legal rights to strike and protest. Only under Thatcher’s reign could this have happened.

  2. Trevor Hyett
    Aug 1st 2012, 1:21 pm

    It’s never too late for justice.

  3. Bob Pointer
    Aug 1st 2012, 1:30 pm

    Todays economic climate with the present political stance on employment rights highlights why the truth needs to be revealed over this issue and the right to stand up for employment rights with the ultimate recourse to strike action should the need arise.

  4. Paul Trippett
    Aug 1st 2012, 2:20 pm

    Becky, Thatcher was to blame for a lot of things but not for this, good luck Ricky.

  5. Richard Chapman
    Aug 2nd 2012, 9:28 pm

    During the 1972 Builders National strike I was involved in the dispute in the North West Region as I worked in the construction industry as a joiner prior to the strike and supported the local pickets in my area. I support the Shrewsbury 24 campaign to have this miscarriage of injustice overturned on the 40th Anniversary which is long overdue. Richard Chapman.

  6. Chris Erswell
    Aug 4th 2012, 3:36 pm

    Keep on digging for the truth. Time for the government to release all documents relating to this miscarriage of justice. Best wishes.

  7. Mr Douglas Oxer
    Aug 4th 2012, 7:36 pm

    Once again it was a case of the government intimidationg trade union activists.
    The way the government bahave at times, it like we were in Iran or China, where you can not have a say. They get scared of the working class, so there solution is , LOCK EM UP.
    Dream up some charges and get a reult, so come on , lets know the truth, and clear these innocent men, who were just looking for decent wages and conditions for there fellow workers.

  8. TUC gives support to Campaign – The Official Shrewsbury 24 Campaign | The Official Shrewsbury 24 Campaign
    Aug 21st 2012, 7:59 pm

    […] A meeting was held recently at Congress House, the headquarters of the TUC. In attendance were Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary-elect and Paul Nowak, TUC Head of Organisation & Services Department, former pickets Ricky Tomlinson and Terry Renshaw and Eileen Turnbull, researcher and John Bohanna. As a result the TUC has agreed to promote the campaign to each TUC region, to 166 trades councils and to the 17,000 Unionreps subscribers. Ricky was provided with a Blog spot on the TUC’s Stronger Unions site. You can read his first blog here: […]

  9. johnwinstanley
    Sep 12th 2012, 12:32 pm

    regards and best wishes towards justice for the goaled and all affected at that time’the 24 must be never be forgotten.unity is essential at this critical time. john winstanley retired ucatt activist

  10. Phil Johnson
    Sep 27th 2012, 9:50 am

    The fight for Justice must continue.