Shrewsbury pickets case to be heard in Court of Appeal

Actor Ricky Tomlinson takes his case of unlawful conviction for picketing in Shrewsbury in the 1970s to the Court of Appeal in London on Wednesday.

Ricky Tomlinson talking about the case in Oswestry in 2017
Ricky Tomlinson talking about the case in Oswestry in 2017

The former building worker from Liverpool was one of the men who became known as the Shrewsbury 24.

In 1973, Mr Tomlinson was jailed for two year for unlawful assembly, conspiracy to intimidate, and affray.

The prosecution at the time said that the pickets who travelled to Shrewsbury and Telford on a coach intimidated those who worked during the strikes of the time.

Mr Tomlinson has always protested his innocence, saying the picketing was legal.

He will be appearing in the Court of Appeal alongside his friend Arthur Murray, who was also convicted. They will be represented by the Public Interest Law Centre.

Other members of the 24 will be represented by the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, which was launched in 2006. Their cases will also be heard at the hearing.

The appeals are based on new evidence that statements were destroyed and legal arguments about a TV documentary, Red Under the Bed, which was screened by ITV in during the trial.

The cases of the other pickets, include six who have died, Alfred James, Samuel Roy Warburton, Graham Roberts, John Kenneth Seaburg, Kenneth O’Shea and Des Warren.

Mr Tomlinson said: “It will have taken nearly 50 years for us to have our day in court and for the truth to come out."

A spokesman for the Public Interest Law Centre said: "Ricky and Arthur were two members of the Shrewsbury 24, ordinary trade unionists arrested for their involvement in the national builders’ strike in 1972. In 1973 Ricky, along with Des Warren, was sentenced to prison for unlawful assembly, conspiracy to intimidate and affray.

"On May 26, 2020, the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred Ricky and Arthur’s cases to the Court for reconsideration. To our knowledge a total of 14 of the Shrewsbury 24 have had their cases referred.

"The court is being asked to consider new evidence consisting of a note dated 17 September 1973 revealing that some original statements had been destroyed. Neither this note, nor the fact that statements were destroyed, was disclosed to the defence at the time of the trial

"It will also be asked to consider new legal arguments relating to the screening of the TV programme The Red Under the Bed during the 1972 trial, and an analysis, applying modern standards of fairness, of the way the airing of the documentary was handled by the trial judge. "

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