Construction workers claiming to have been wrongly jailed following an industrial dispute in the 1970s are to challenge a refusal by the miscarriage of justice watchdog to refer their case back to the Court of Appeal. The judicial review is the latest step in an epic fight by the so called Shrewsbury 24 who say they were wrongly convicted of offences relating a national builders’ strike at Shrewsbury crown court in 1973.
Six men were jailed, including the actor Ricky Tomlinson who got two years, having been charged under arcane legislation (Conspiracy Act 1875) for offences relating to intimidation and damage to property for picketing during the first nationwide industrial action by the building trade.
You can read an interview with Ricky Tomlinson by Nick Bano on the Justice Gap here
More info: https://www.shrewsbury24campaign.org.uk
The Shrewsbury 24 made an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) over six years ago in April 2012 but their application was only rejected earlier this year. ‘Our case should have been referred back to the Court of Appeal at least three years ago,’ commented the campaign secretary Eileen Turnbull. ‘The CCRC has dragged its feet for more than five years and then failed to apply the relevant law to the fresh evidence that we provided. We look forward to the full hearing in the spring as we are confident that we will succeed.’
Mr Justice Jay has granted permission for the case to proceed to a full judicial review hearing. According to the campaign, it is the first time that the Shrewsbury pickets have been before a court since 1974. The CCRC had opposed their application for judicial review and they were originally refused permission for the application to go forward to a full court hearing. The Shrewsbury 24 will now challenge the CCRC on the grounds that their rejection was ‘irrational and perverse’.
Terry Renshaw, speaking on behalf of the pickets, said it was ‘a momentous victory’ for the campaign. ‘When we left the court we were delighted with the decision and felt a great sense of achievement after campaigning for the past twelve years to overturn this miscarriage of justice. We are nearly there.’
The case is likely to be heard in next Spring and the court will look at two main grounds: that the destruction of original witness statements by the police, which was concealed from the defence and court by the prosecution, amounted to an abuse of process; and the broadcasting of an ITV documentary (Red under the Bed) halfway through the trial was highly prejudicial to the pickets.
‘I want to thank our trade union and Labour Party supporters for the unwavering backing that they have given to us as we would not have got this far without it,’ said campaign chairperson Harry Chadwick: ‘The fight is not over yet. We need your continued support to raise funds for the forthcoming hearing. We ask branches, trades councils and CLPs to affiliate to us for 2019 and donate to our legal fund.’