Campaign for the Shrewsbury 24 E-Petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/35394
In 1972 Ricky Tomlinson the well known UK comedian and actor was a qualified plasterer and builder working on the new Wrexham bypass in North Wales, he became involved in union activities to improve the poor working conditions and pay of workers in the construction industry. Following a series of rare construction industry strikes (held peacefully amid amicable encounters with police) he and other Union members were arrested in a climate of judicial secrecy and ad hoc process. Lacking any real evidence, Ricky and fellow union members were imprisoned following a conviction under the archaic 1875 Conspiracy Act and he spent the next two years in a variety of prisons, including a substantial period in Shrewsbury prison. He later found he had been secretly classed as a political prisoner. During his imprisonment Ricky went on hunger strike and endured other privations to impress his innocent status and this status was often openly recognised as such by prison guards and even a prison governor. One of Ricky’s fellows was made extremely ill by their ordeal and died tragically some time later, it is on behalf of his fellow union members that Ricky has campaigned on this issue for many years. Documents relating to the trial and judicial process concerning Ricky and other union members were classified as top secret and this status has been extended to 2021. Ricky is campaigning for wider awareness of this travesty of justice for the “Shrewsbury 24”, for release of improperly classified documentation concerning the case and to clear his name of this criminal conviction for the sake of his family who have also been adversely affected by this episode. Please see the following government e-petition demanding the release of government documents relating to the trial: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/35394 this petition has been subject to a declaration of some 50,000 invalid entries by the UK government. Ricky’s campaign is appealing for fully completed signatures on the petition to ensure this reaches 100,000 – the number needed to trigger a debate on this topic in the UK Government House of Commons, the deadline for the petition is 27 June 2013.
Please also see the following resources –
- The official Shrewsbury 24 campaign site
- Billy Bragg backs Ricky Tomlinson’s call over the Shrewsbury 24
Rick Tomlinson describes his Shrewsbury 24 experiences (Youtube):
“You know me as an actor and performer today but as a young man I was a plasterer working in the building industry and a member of the T&GWU. We were low paid and had some of the worst working conditions of any workers in Britain in the 1970’s. Like any good trade unionists we decided we would take action to change this. We had a national strike in summer 1972. We picketed sites that were not well organised and where union members needed our support. Five months after the strike ended 24 of us were arrested out of the blue and six of us were sent to prison after lengthy trails at Shrewsbury Crown Court.
I was sent to jail for 2 years for carrying out trade union activities. Today you do not hear of trade unionists in Britain being sent to prison but that’s what happened to me and 5 of my colleagues. Others got suspended prison sentences.
Please sign my e-petition to demand the release of Government documents. We believe that they show that there was government interference and manipulation in bringing the prosecutions. The Coalition Government today continues to refuse to release these documents on grounds of “national security”. “