Actor Ricky Tomlinson, jailed for picketing building sites in Shropshire in the 1970s, has issued a challenge to former housebuilding boss Peter Starbuck to meet him to talk about the events at the time.
Mr Tomlinson, who has starred in shows including The Royle Family and Brookside, said he is taking an article written by the Oswestry businessman which alleges the pickets loaded their bus with crates of beer to his legal advisors.
In a passionate speech in Oswestry, the actor said he had hoped that some of the pickets from the town who travelled to Shrewsbury and Telford would be at the meeting held at Oswestry Cricket Club on Tuesday.
He is gathering evidence to show to the Criminal Cases Review Commission to have the cases referred to the Court of Appeal.
He said he was disappointed that the pickets had not gone along to the event he was speaking at.
“The Oswestry pickets could hold the key to breaking some of the myths,” said the 77-year-old.
In a fiery speech, the actor brandished a copy of Mr Starbuck’s article written about September 6, 1972.
He said: “There was no beer, not on my coach.
“I challenge him to meet me face-to-face to prove what he says.”
A small audience heard Mr Tomlinson say he was fighting for justice, not for himself, but for his fellow picket Des Warren.
Mr Warren was jailed for three years and Mr Tomlinson for two after they were found guilty of ‘conspiracy to intimidate’ while picketing in Shropshire in 1972.
Mr Warren died in 2004 suffering from Parkinson’s disease that Mr Tomlinson said had been linked to sedatives given to prisoners during the 1970s.
“I have a good life. I have been all over the world and met some wonderful people,” he said.
“Dessie never had that chance. The last time I saw him he weighed just six stone and his hair was snow white. That’s what they did do him. I am fighting for him.”
The sentences came at the end of a 55-day trial.
One of those supporting Mr Tomlinson in Oswestry was Shaun Walton, whose father, Norman, was on the jury.
Mr Norman Walton, a publican in Dawley Bank, was one of two jury members who remonstrated and left the jury seats when the jail sentences were passed.
He died in 1993 at the age of 48. Shaun Walton said: “The trial really affected my father.
“He told me that the jury were told that if they didn’t reach a verdict they might not be home for Christmas.
“They were also told that if the men were found guilty they would be fined.”
Mr Tomlinson is appealing for the other jury members to contact him.
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