Shrewsbury pickets’ case in Court of Appeal, 3-4 February 2021

On 3 and 4 February 2021, the Court of Appeal will hear the appeal of the North Wales building workers who were prosecuted for picketing during the 1972 national building workers’ strike. Six received prison sentences and sixteen received suspended prison sentences.  They have always maintained their innocence of all charges. 

Several of the pickets have died including the leading picket, Des Warren, whose case has been brought by his eldest son, Nick. 

The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign was launched in 2006 to overturn this miscarriage of justice. The Campaign represents twelve pickets including Des Warren, John McKinsie Jones, Ken O’Shea, Malcolm Clee, Michael Pierce, Terry Renshaw, Kevin Butcher, Bernard Williams, Alfred James, Roy Warburton, Graham Roberts and John Seaburg. Leading human rights lawyers, Bindmans solicitors, have been acting for the Campaign and representing the pickets since 2012 when an application was first made to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. 

The appeal is the result of years of investigation by the Campaign’s Researcher and Secretary, Eileen Turnbull. 

“I have visited every possible archive and library to obtain documents about the trials, including several trips to the National Archives at Kew. I unearthed the evidence that the CCRC finally accepted as grounds to refer the convictions to the Court of Appeal.

Firstly, I found a letter and memo written by West Mercia police showing that original witness statements had been destroyed by the police and this fact had not been disclosed to the defence counsel or the court.

My second discovery was about the broadcast of a highly prejudicial documentary on ITV, Red under the Bed, which was shown on 13 November 1973, halfway during the first trial. I used a Freedom of Information request to obtain a Cabinet Office file about the film. It revealed that a covert agency within the Foreign Office, known as the Information Research Department, had made a significant contribution to the content of the programme.”

Terry Renshaw received a suspended prison sentence for unlawful assembly and has campaigned tirelessly for over 40 years to clear his and all his fellow pickets names, 

We are looking forward to finally having 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.” 

The Campaign’s Chairperson, Harry Chadwick, paid tribute to the support from the labour movement, 

“We have had tremendous support from trade union members from all over the country. Twenty-one national unions and hundreds of branches have affiliated to our Campaign. We will never forget the warm welcome and solidarity shown to us at the many events that we have travelled to during the past 15 years. On behalf of the pickets and campaign, a heartfelt thank you.”

 Eileen expressed her thanks, 

I would like to say a particularly big thank you to the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign who have worked tirelessly to get justice for the miners who were victimised and brutally beaten by the police in the 1984-85 strike. Their campaign showed solidarity and comradeship towards us without question. Despite the obstacles that they have had to overcome and the huge setbacks they have suffered they have never given up.”   

Two other pickets, Ricky Tomlinson and Arthur Murray, withdrew from the campaign and the legal case in 2017 when the Criminal Cases Review Commission turned down our application. The remaining original eight pickets never gave up. With the support of the Campaign and trade unions we successfully challenged the CCRC in a judicial review in April 2019.  The CCRC reviewed the case and finally, in March 2020, referred the eight pickets’ convictions to the Court of Appeal. Our success won the right for all the remaining convicted pickets to apply to the CCRC to be added to our case. The families of four further pickets asked the Campaign to support them and we were delighted to submit their applications, which were accepted.  

On the back of our success the two who withdrew from the case in 2017, Ricky Tomlinson and Arthur Murray, were able to reapply to the CCRC and had their case referred in May 2020. They have chosen not to re-join their fellow pickets and are represented separately in the court, though their lawyers base their case on the Campaign’s evidence.  Full details of the charges and convictions are available on the Campaign’s website: 

www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk