Sponsors: Bottomley, Peter Corbyn, Jeremy Durkan, Mark Russell, Bob
That this House notes the application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission by Ricky Tomlinson and other convicted building workers known as the Shrewsbury 24 who were prosecuted in 1973 following the national building workers strike in 1972; further notes the support for the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign from building workers' unions the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians and Unite and many other trades unions; further notes that on the 40th anniversary of the dispute the Government continues, on grounds of national security, to withhold a number of papers relating to the strike and the prosecutions from being deposited at the National Archives under section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and calls on the Government to release forthwith all such papers for public scrutiny.
Star Ricky Tomlinson said he and the other jailed Flying Pickets had a “100% chance” of winning their court challenge to have secret government documents about their imprisonment released.
Speaking ahead of a Criminal Case Review Commission hearing to be held in Birmingham next month he said he believed the group’s lawyers could prove that the decision to jail the men was “politically motivated”.
The 24 men were sentenced under the 1875 Conspiracy Act because of their involvement in picketing during the 1972 builders’ strike. They had travelled around building sites trying to encourage construction workers to join the strike and were jailed for “unlawful assembly, affray and conspiracy”. But the government is refusing to release the papers on the basis that it “could threaten national security”. Ex-Brookside, Cracker and Royle Family star Ricky, who was jailed for two years, said: “There was political involvement and I think the reason they’re refusing to release the papers is because some of the people involved are still alive today. “It’s been a long struggle but we are not giving up. “There’s no way they can deny some of the evidence. They talk about transparency and open justice – now’s the time to come clear.” Fellow Flying Picket Terry Renshaw added: “I believe we will finally see justice and prove that this was a political trial. “The government can’t have it both ways by denying it was political and still refusing nearly 40 years on to release all documents appertaining to the trials as it would threaten the national security of the country.”
As more evidence comes to light concerning the cabinet ministers and Prime Minister of 1972, the pieces of the jigsaw start to fall into place.
With the Irish situation getting worse and the Dockers on strike, the government were starting to lose their grip.
When the Pentonville 5 were finally released and the construction unions gathered forces to start yet another strike, the Conservatives knew they were on their way out.
Knowing even then that there was a limited time left for the coal and steel reserves, and when the end came, it would also signal the end of twogreat trade unions’ power. Also with the shipyards running down this caused another great trade union to start to run down too.
What the Conservatives or even Labour didn’t want was an organised construction industry. The final nail in the coffin was the construction union winning their strike.
Construction companies were not used to organised construction trade unions or workforces. The large construction companies didn’t want to get rid of the lump or improve Health & Safety standards. Welfare was a joke. In the seventies, profits came before health, safety and welfare. Fat cats were getting fatter.
Everyone knows the flying pickets were not angels but neither were they thugs. They were working class people looking out for each other.
Even after the Conservative government lost office, the Labour party were never going to do anything. They were too busy looking after their selves. The Labour party stopped delivering what they were formed for and became more and more blue.
Today we are interested in a public inquiry so we can put the record straight. If we were to be proved wrong, we would walk away, but if the truth is what I believe and that is; the Government, the police and MI5 were involved in blackening the names of the 24 and putting pressure on the judicial system to act and pre-judge the outcome of the trial.
1. Were they guilty?
2. Why were they arrested 6 months after the event?
3. Why were they imprisoned?
4. Why was the Government talking to members of the court?
5. Why were the jury told that the pickets would be fined £50?
6. Why were Ricky and Des moved around so much whilst imprisoned?
7. Why won’t they release the documents in full?
8. Is the evidence against the pickets or the state?
9. Why are we not allowed a public inquiry?
10. With so many cover ups, what was going on in the seventies?
Dim lights Pete Farrell (left), me (centre) and Amanda Davies (right) carrying the Justice for the Shrewsbury Pickets banner through the streets of Shrewsbury during the annual march in July 2010
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