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Forty year wait for justice continues for Shrewsbury 24

Shrewsbury24-Downing-StreetI have recently joined the Shrewsbury 24 justice campaigners on the steps of Downing Street to hand a petition signed by over 100,000 people to the Prime Minister demanding the release of all official documents relating to the prosecution of the Shrewsbury 24 in 1973.

Despite the passage of forty years the release of the documents are being held in secret at the National Archives on the grounds of “national security”, denying justice to those convicted for nothing more than organising the first ever national strike in the building industry.

The national building strike in 1972 was hugely successful in that unionised workers gained a record pay increase, but more importantly they forced the big construction companies to provide improved health and safety conditions on sites.

However, five months after the strike 24 men were arrested and charged under the 1875 Conspiracy Act. Six were sent to prison, including actor and campaign activist Ricky Tomlinson.

Recent documents have shown a campaign against construction workers being organised within the heart of Downing Street, with documents linking the cabinet with the police and judiciary. A letter from the then Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Peter Rawlinson to the Home Secretary Robert Carr dated 25th January 1973 stated that although there were instances of intimidation by flying pickets in Telford the previous September, these constituted of entirely threatening words and “there was no evidence against any particular person of violence or damage to property”.

However, every power of the state was used to convict the Shrewsbury 24, and send a warning to other workers not to challenge those in power. In recent years we have learnt that in addition to this state intimidation, thousands of construction workers were denied a living through illegal blacklists of Trade Unionists compiled by major construction companies.

The petition has led to a three hour parliamentary debate being scheduled in the New Year, where I will be making the case for the release of documents, and for the end of one of the longest running miscarriages of justice we have witnessed in the UK.

One Comment

  1. treborc says:

    It’s time for the facts to come out, sadly I somehow doubt they will.

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