Billy Bragg backs Ricky Tomlinson's call over the Shrewsbury 24

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Singer Billy Bragg has given his backing to an online petition started by Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson calling for the publication of all Government documents linked to the notorious 1970s builders' dispute in Shrewsbury.

The musician took to

on Monday to urge his 149,000 followers to sign the petition, which now has almost 16,000 signatures.

Bragg asked his followers to 'support Ricky Tomlinson's campaign for justice for the Shrewsbury 24 jailed for picketing in 1970s' and provided a link to the online petition.

Mr Tomlinson was one of 24 building workers arrested and charged under the 1875 Conspiracy Act, with six, including Mr Tomlinson, sent to prison in the early 1970s.

The picketing in Shrewsbury was part of a national builders' strike which saw more than 300,000 workers down their tools in 1972.

Mr Tomlinson is stepping up efforts to clear his name, with the online petition which was launched last June following on from the presentation of new documents to the Criminal Case Review Commission in Birmingham last year.

The petition says: "We call upon the Government to release all Cabinet minutes, documents, discussion papers, civil service notes, reports and telephone records produced from 1972 to 1976 by Government departments, agencies and prosecuting authorities relating to the strike, the building workers' unions, the arrested pickets, the prosecutions at Mold and Shrewsbury and the subsequent appeals, as well as any other material pertaining to the case that fall outside the above time period."


It adds: "Government files relating to the strike have been withheld from the National Archives even though more than 30 years have passed."

If the petition collects more than 100,000 names the matter will be discussed in the House of Commons.

In January, Mr Tomlinson held a press conference in London in which he accused the Government of 'bare-faced lies' for refusing to release documents relating to the Shrewsbury pickets' case on the grounds of national security. The TV star said he felt 'ill and angry' relevant paperwork has been marked as top secret.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady has said: "We back the call for a parliamentary inquiry and the release of these papers."

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