'Shrewsbury 24' pickets' petition delivered to Number 10

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Campaigners trying to quash 40-year-old convictions against 24 pickets convicted over the National Builders' Strike in Shrewsbury  have delivered a 100,000-signature petition to the Government, saying they were confident the "miscarriage of justice" will be overturned.

Ricky Tomlinson, second left, with campaigners delivering a 100,000-signature petition against the convictions

The petition was handed in to 10 Downing Street yesterday by union leaders and Royle Family actor Ricky Tomlinson, one of the 24.

He was one of a group of pickets arrested five months after the 1972 building workers' strike and charged under the 1875 Conspiracy Act, with six sent to prison, including Tomlinson.

He told a press conference in Westminster he remained convinced the Shrewsbury case was politically motivated. Tomlinson said: "Today's visit to Downing Street is an important step in our long campaign.

"We were convicted of conspiracy in the 1970s, but we were innocent then and we are innocent now. Crucial documents relating to the charges brought against us and the trials at Shrewsbury Crown Court continue to be withheld by the Government.

"Successive ministers have used a section of the Freedom of Information laws which deals with national security, to say it would not be in the public interest to release them. There was never a national security issue."

He added: "They know the documents will finally reveal the names of the Government minister behind our prosecution and that includes the then Prime Minister, Ted Heath.

"It was a Government-orchestrated attack on working class people.

"When people learn the truth they will be shocked things like this go on in modern Britain."

The campaign group wants all documents relating to the case to be released, claiming they would prove that a "massive miscarriage of justice" was handed out.

Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, said it was obvious there was an "establishment conspiracy" at the time of the arrests, which was continuing.

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