Justice for the Shrewsbury 24 Pickets – after 50 years

eileenTurnbill nov19
” I am delighted to inform you that on 23-3-21, the Court of Appeal has quashed the convictions of the Shrewsbury pickets. This is a tremendous victory for the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign.Further details on https://www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk/news/.

This is a victory for all trade unionists.

We never gave up.

We thank you for your support and affiliation to our campaign over the years. The decision of the Court of Appeal concludes our legal challenge. We therefore no longer need to raise funds for the pickets’ legal costs and are not seeking any further re-affiliations or donations.”  – Eileen Turnbull Secretary and Researcher Shrewsbury 24 Campaign

Eileen Turnbull – A Very British Conspiracy

The Shrewsbury 24 and the Campaign for Justice.
Eileen Turnbull’s extensive research over many years, unearthed hidden evidence which ultimately led to the quashing of all charges of the Shrewsbury 24 building workers, who were persecuted by a government and police conspiracy.  She speaks about her new book about their victorious campaign.
Proceeds of  A Very British Conspiracy  [https://www.versobooks.com/en-gb/products/3008-a-very-british-conspiracy] are going to The Casa trade union club in Liverpool which was established by docker’s redundancy money and assisted the campaign throughout.
Recorded in Wolverhampton at a meeting of Labour Party and trade union activists May 2023.


From: Eileen Turnbull, Secretary and Researcher, “I am delighted to report that the pickets’ case will be heard by the Court of Appeal on  3/4th February 2021. [Court of Appeal Judges reserved their opinion for up to 4 weeks.]

further updates on https://www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk/

This is an historic event for the whole trade union and labour movement.

This will be a great day for the pickets, which could not be achieved without the solidarity and support that we have received from Trades Councils.”

The Criminal Cases Review Commission finally agreed (4-3-20) to refer the convictions of the Shrewsbury pickets to the Court of Appeal. The pickets delivered their applications to the CCRC’s Birmingham headquarters nearly eight years ago, in April 2012.

Eight of the North Wales building workers who were jailed or received suspended prison sentences in 1973-74, will now get the chance to show that they suffered a miscarriage of justice.

The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign has worked tirelessly since 2006 to publicise the case and gain support from trade unions and the Labour Party. The Campaign’s Researcher and Secretary, Eileen Turnbull, travelled throughout the UK to find the fresh evidence necessary to persuade the CCRC to refer the case to the appeal court. The documents that Turnbull unearthed now form the basis for the appeal.

She said “This is a great victory, which could not be achieved without the support that we have received from the trade union movement. “

Eileen at our meeting Nov 2019

eileenTurnbill nov19

Terry Renshaw, speaking on behalf of the pickets, said, “We are absolutely delighted with the decision and look forward to our day in court to show that we were victims of a miscarriage of justice. Without the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign we would not be where we are today. We owe a great debt of thanks to them for the tireless work that they have carried out.”

To visit the official Shrewsbury24 campaign website click here…..

The CCRC have accepted that the fresh evidence that we have submitted should be considered by the Court of Appeal:

Firstly, the police destroyed witness statements that they had taken at the start of their inquiries. These should have been given to the pickets’ lawyers even if the police did not want to use them.

Secondly, the fairness of the trial was prejudiced by an ITV documentary Red Under the Bed that was televised on the evening that the prosecution case finished. It showed footage of a police cordon outside Shrewsbury Crown Court during the trials and of the accused pickets leading a protest march through the town.

Since the pickets first delivered their applications to the CCRC’s Birmingham headquarters in April 2012, one of the applicants, Ken O’Shea, had passed away. Des Warren, who was blacklisted and never worked again after his release from prison in 1976, died prematurely in 2004. His son, Nick, has continued his dad’s long struggle to clear his name.

These eight pickets were determined to see justice done and were unbowed when the CCRC turned down their case in 2017. Four of them, Warren, Jones, Pierce and Renshaw, took judicial review proceedings and the CCRC caved in at court in April 2019. Today’s CCRC’s decision is a tribute to the pickets’ determination.

The Campaign has won the backing of 21 national trade unions, the TUC and the Labour Party. Hundreds of local union branches, trades councils and Labour Party branches affiliated to the Campaign.

The Campaign fights for justice for the wrongful prosecution of 24 building workers following their strike in 1972.

“We were not guilty of any crime… Any fair-minded person looking at the evidence would conclude there has been a miscarriage of justice.” Terry Renshaw

The Shrewsbury 24 were not guilty of conspiracy. They were the victims of one   read full article here…

We would ask that your branch affiliates to the campaign. Please see our website for the form and an up to date Information Sheet: www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk

SP A0126 Terry Renshaw at Dudley TUC March 2017

Annual trade union affiliation fee 2019 to the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign:SP A0126
up to 100 members £15              up to 500 members £30
up to 1,000 members £45          over 1000 members £75
National organisations: £125     Trades Councils & CLPs: £25         form here……
Cheques should be made payable to “Shrewsbury 24 Campaign”. Send to: Eileen Turnbull, National Treasurer, National Shrewsbury 24 Campaign Committee, PO Box 92, Liverpool L19 3WD
BACS payments can be made to the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign Co-op account number: 65249495 Sort code: 08-92-99.

Shrewsbury 24 activists hail MPs’ Vote for full facts of 1972 Plot.

Shewsbury 24 justice campaigners hailed a big leap forward  in their quest to expose a vicious Establishment conspiracy against innocent trade unionists.  MPs voted by 120 to three to demand the lifting of the government ban on publication of papers held on spurious grounds of “national security” following a historic Commons debate 40 years after three Shrewsbury pickets were jailed and 21 others tried on trumped-up conspiracy charges. read full article here….

HuntleyFilmArchives footage from the 1972 strike and rallies in suppport of the Shrewsbury pickets https://youtu.be/wI_QmOnYbFs

More than the requisite 100,000 signatures were secured for a parliamentary debate on the petition’s central demand for the disclosure of all state documents relating to the arrest, trials and convictions of 24 north Wales building workers in 1973.

House of Commons debate on the Shrewsbury 24, 23 January 2014 – Motion, tabled by Dave Anderson MP:

“That this House is seriously concerned at the decision of the Government to refuse to release papers related to the building dispute in 1972 and subsequent prosecutions of the workers known as the Shrewsbury 24 and calls on it to reverse this position as a matter of urgency.”

Ricky Tomlinson Shrewsbury 24

We had two magnificent successes in the Administrative Court in Birmingham. Firstly, on 9th November 2018 we succeeded in our application for permission to proceed to a full Judicial Review hearing against the Criminal Cases Review Commission’s decision not to refer the pickets’ convictions to the Court of Appeal. This was the first success that the pickets’ had achieved in a court of law.

Then, on Tuesday 30 April 2019, halfway through the full Judicial Review hearing in Birmingham, the CCRC conceded the case. This was despite defending the proceedings for over a year up to the day of the hearing. The CCRC agreed to withdraw its original decision of October 2017 and to reconsider referring the pickets’ case back to the appeal court.

This is a tremendous success for the pickets and the campaign. When we receive the CCRC’s new decision we will send you a further update.

We are aware that we face further hurdles along the road to justice. All the fresh evidence we have obtained to support the pickets’ case has taken years of painstaking research. It is forty-six years since the trials yet the Government continues to refuse to release documents relating to the Shrewsbury case. We are heartened that the 2017 Labour manifesto stated that when Labour form a government they will release all papers relating to the Shrewsbury trials.

From Ricky Tomlinson:

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.

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”. There’s a lot more information on the Campaign’s website:www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk

Best wishes Ricky Tomlinson

Heroes of trade unions in the construction industry – one of the worst miscarriages of justice in the 20th Century

Who were the Shrewsbury 24? Read Manchester TUC’s excellent article
for further info, we recommend;

The Shrewsbury Three: strikes, pickets and “conspiracy” by Jim Arnison. This is the story of 3 building workers who were wrongly imprisoned and their fight for justice. The author was a journalist for the Morning Star.84pp. £3 + p&p fromhttp://www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk/how-to-support-us/#merchandise

Des Warren, “The Key to My Cell”, (1982), republished 2007 £10 from http://www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk/how-to-support-us/#merchandise along with T-shirts, other books and all the latest campaign information.

Ricky Tomlinson, “Ricky”, Time Warner Paperbacks (2003)

The Flying Pickets, published by The Des Warren Trust

United we Stand is a new Townsend Productions play about the injustice served on 24 building workers in 1973.

Description of the play:

In the 1960s and 70s the UK’s building companies were making millions re-building the country, but building workers faced the most dangerous working conditions and poorest wages of any trade. In the summer of ’72, for twelve weeks, 300,000 building workers launched their industry’s first national all-out strike to end cash “lump” wages and seek better pay by using the controversial tactic of ‘Flying Pickets’. The partial success of the strike, and the methods used, enraged the construction industry and government, and culminated in the arrest of 24 builders in North Wales who were charged with offences including conspiracy to intimidate and affray. The “24” were prosecuted at Shrewsbury Crown Court in 1973 and three were jailed, including building workers Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson.

Sharp and humorous, United We Stand tells the story behind the compelling dispute and dispels the myth, put about at the time, that the pickets were a criminally violent  rather than ordinary working men seeking a better life for themselves and their fellow workers.

Combining Townsend Productions’ trademark cast of two playing multiple roles, grand theatrical style and wit with popular and political songs about the strike, arranged by renowned folk musician John Kirkpatrick and Ricky Tomlinson’s poems from his time in prison, the production aims to bring the full story of the compelling dispute to life in a powerful and thought-provoking new play.

The events surrounding the strike are still making headlines to this day, and 42 years on, the high-profile Shrewsbury 24 Campaign, led by picket turned actor Ricky Tomlinson is still seeking to overturn the unjust prosecution of the 24 building workers.

Ricky Tomlinson said about the play, “I am delighted The Townsend Theatre Company are presenting a play about the 1972 building workers strike, and the plight of the Shrewsbury 24 building worker pickets. It is 41 years since I together with Des Warren and John McKinsie Jones were charged with conspiracy and jailed.

We were charged with conspiracy, but we believe the real conspiracy was between the government, the building contractors and the judiciary. They wanted the prison sentences to act as a deterrent, to prevent workers from taking strike action.

“Every worker should know what happened to us so as to ensure it does not happen again.”

Townsend Productions – a company making a name for delivering vivid, politically committed theatre – The Observer

Whatever your politics, this is a production worth seeing – The Observer

Vivid Writing – The Observer


★★★★★ Morning Star
★★★★ Liverpool Echo
★★★★ Click,Liverpool
United We Stand is up front and personal, in yer face – British Theatre Guide
United We Stand is the kind of cake that really doesn’t need any icing – British Theatre Guide
Striking Stuff- Click, Liverpool
The play was truthful, and hilarious and entertaining from the start – Nerve Magasine
Passionately delivered – Liverpool Echo
Highly recommended – Morning Star

Here is new Video trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-YndfvRfsI

Thursday 21st September 2017 – Shrewsbury 24 campaign speaker reporting on trhe long awaited outcome of the Criminal Case Reveview Commission.

organised by Wolverhampton TUC

Shrewsbury activists call for release of secret papers 22 January 2013

To visit the official Shrewsbury24 campaign website click here….. 

Sign Ricky Tomlinson’s epetition here…

Read Ricky Tomlinson’s new blog

Early Day Motion 170 Date tabled: 12.06.2012

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.

Justice for Shrewsbury Pickets 40 years on
To: MPs because if 100,000 signatures are gathered Parliment has to address the issue.

The petition is really important and could use our help. Click here to find out more and sign
The Justice for the Shrewsbury 24 campaign has been researching a case for an appeal to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. It  lodged the submission to the CCRC offices in Birmingham on 3rd April 2012.
Although only a formality, this was quite a historic occasion, since this year also marks the 40th anniversary of the national building workers strike that led to the imprisonment of the Shrewsbury pickets. The application is the first legal attempt to have the miscarriage of justice overturned.
The handing in of the submission to the CCRC was memorable. It was the first time in 40 years that the convictions have been challenged through the criminal justice system. History in the making, it was a day to remember.

The campaign will continue to support the pickets by ongoing research and to organise events to raise awareness of the issue and to raise funds to cover costs of the legal team at Bindmans solicitors. – Eileen Turnbull, Shrewsbury 24 campaign

Fund-raising to pay legal costs is necessary.

It is possible that new evidence will persuade the CCRC to obtain disclosure of documents from government concerning the activity of the security services and the Cabinet.

Watch the Campaign’s video by clicking here

2nd annual march & rallyBob Crow (RMT Gen.Sec.) called for support for John McDonnell’s EDM to repeal the anti-trade union laws.

Ricky Tomlinson challenged the Chief Constable to a debate anytime in Shrewsbury to prove that it was the state who the real conspirators.
Janice Godrich PCS President, Right to Work Campaign and Telford & Shropshire TUC delegates addressed the crowd.

Message from Shropshire & Telford Trades Council
Support the Annual Shrewsbury 24 March and Rally

In 21st century Britain an unelected judge deems as illegal a democratic decision of workers to take strike action. Lord Justice McCombe’s recent high court ruling against BA cabin crew shows that yet again the law can be relied on to back the rich and the powerful. The outrageous decision to outlaw strikes at British Airways is directed against everyone who wants to see resistance to the ConDem Coalition’s agenda of savage cuts.

The bosses and the government are on the offensive against workers and the entire union movement has to fight back. Shropshire and Telford Trades Council invite trade unionists and supporters to joins us for a March and Rally demanding justice for the Shrewsbury pickets, criminalised and jailed following the 1972 building workers strike, and forging solidarity with workers fighting back now in the face of draconian anti-union laws.

The first two events have been a tremendous success, the rallies – outside the court where the pickets were sentenced – reinvigorated the Shrewsbury 24 Campaign and brought the lessons of struggle and resistance to a wide layer of activist and campaigners both old and new.

The March and Rally is held in Shrewsbury  because this was where the main trial took place. The actual events that led to them being charged took place in Telford so there is even more reason that the event on the first Saturday of July is supported by all local Trade Unionists. It’s time that Justice was finally done and pardon given to those who have been criminalised for being Trade Unionists, their only crime was in fighting for decent terms and conditions. The campaign is also calling for a Public Inquiry to expose the role of successive governments and the secret services in the events surrounding this important time in labour history.

Follow link  for photo collage of the first march

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